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KSEB plans drive against power theft

By P. Venugopal

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, JAN. 20. The Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) is planning a multi-pronged drive against power theft in the wake of fresh disclosures about large-scale cheating by High Tension (HT) power consumers in the State.

The Anti-Power Theft Squad (APTS) under the Vigilance wing of the KSEB had yesterday claimed that it had detected power theft to the tune of about Rs. 9 crores during a raid on five steel/carbide manufacturing units located in Palakkad district.

Given the nature of the theft detected, the APTS feels that it is only the tip of the iceberg. Several HT consumers seemed to have made it a habit to tamper with the metering system so as to cheat the KSEB, it said.

The meters installed on the premises of HT power consumers are sophisticated devices that can record the pattern of power consumption for 41 days. Normally, when tampering is suspected, the KSEB engineers get the data from the meters downloaded and analysed at its laboratories in Thiruvananthapuram or Shoranur. Catching the errant consumer red-handed is difficult except when the squad conducts raid acting on definite information.

In the case of the latest raid on the Palakkad industrial units, the APTS took along the computer devices required for analysing the data recorded in the consumers' meters. Sources said the team was taken aback by the scale of cheating by even units that were earlier thought to be clean in their dealings.

The KSEB chairman, T. M. Manoharan, said this issue was discussed in detail at a meeting of officials convened by the Electricity Minister, Aryadan Mohammed, recently. One of the decisions taken at the meeting was to introduce online monitoring of the power consumption by all HT units. The head of the Vigilance Wing, M.N. Krishnamoorthy, is also interacting with the Central Power Research Institute in Bangalore to gain technological advice on making the planned anti-power theft drive effective.

Incentive system

The KSEB will soon announce an incentive system to motivate its officials, as well as the public, in detecting power theft. The Minister had mooted five per cent incentive for officials and another five per cent incentive for informants, Mr. Manoharan said. The details of the incentive scheme were being worked out and the proposal would be placed at the next meeting of the KSEB board, he said.

The KSEB will henceforth also ensure that HT consumers kept their meters accessible to its officials any time they wanted to conduct an inspection. At present, several HT consumers keep their meters locked.

The KSEB is also planning to introduce parallel `check metering' on the premises of each HT consumer. This will take an investment of nearly Rs. 10,000 for each consumer, Mr. Manoharan said.

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