Sub-divisional offices of Multan Electric Power Company (Mepco) with lesser 'corporate culture' have adopted a unique strategy of penalising the domestic consumers up to 40 kilowatt load with heavy fines in the name of detection or power theft just to cover the line losses, especially in urban areas, alleged a number of consumers in Multan city and cantonment.
A large number of complaints have been received by the Mepco authorities themselves in their open kutcheries yet they did not redress their grievances and consequently they narrated their complaints to the media against different sub-divisions, particularly Mepco city division, which covers city areas.
The consumers said that they have been receiving detection bills of 300 to 1,500 units every month. This modus operandi was adopted by SDOs (Assistant managers operation) to cover the power theft being done with their connivance.
They further alleged that every SDO was putting the burden of more than 40,000 units on the consumers every month.
According to an official figure, line losses in Mepco jurisdiction are more than 20 percent, while the Wapda chairman had given a target of reducing the line losses to 12 percent. But the Mepco authorities in the guise of operation against power thieves doing their business of putting the burden of losses on common domestic power consumers besides registration of criminal cases.
COMPLAINTS: A number of consumers said that they normally face crucial trial for at least 3-4 months for entertaining their complaints and solving them according to the dictates of authorities.
Some of the complainants disclosed to this scribe that they were sent detection bills after their refusal to pay money to the field staffers.
Some of them said that they received detection bills after their rejection to fix monthly amount to field staffers for 'protected' power theft.
The power company teams check the meter in the absence of consumer for assessing power theft and send them detection bill with heavy fines while the consumer despite paying number of taxes have no right to challenge their report.
Under this new strategy the consumers are sent detection bills on the basis of 8-12 month-old inspection reports. A large number of domestic consumers approached the Mepco city sub-division and complained against the fake detection bills but they were told that they have to pay fine.
When the consumers fail to pay the fake detection bills their power supply connections are disconnected under section (1) 24 of Electricity Act 1910 for not paying bills within seven days.
The Mepco city sub-division officials confirmed that M&T had found meter tempering on December 24, 2003 for that reasons the consumer had been issued detection bill. When they were asked about serving detection bill after nine months they laughed and said it was necessary for heavy fine.
On the other hand, the consumer said that sub-divisional staffers disturbed his meter for not properly 'entertaining' them.