In Lahore, a recent report from an intelligence agency has shed light on a significant issue plaguing power distribution companies (Discos) in Pakistan. The report reveals a concerning lack of modern equipment and proper training among Discos’ staff, hindering their ability to effectively combat power theft, which has resulted in substantial financial losses, amounting to billions of rupees.
One of the report’s findings highlights that all electricity supply companies, including Lesco, employ clip-on meters capable of measuring amperage but incapable of detecting electronic devices responsible for stealing electricity within the meter itself.
The report also raises concerns about the emergence of new software designed for electricity theft, enabling control of modern chips found within meters remotely. It suggests possible complicity among individuals associated with power supply companies in the installation of these chips, either directly or indirectly.
According to the report, private electricians and electrical engineers play a role in embedding these chips into meters, which can then be operated remotely to avoid detection when there is a risk of inspection by the electricity supply company’s team.
Furthermore, the report mentions that CCTV cameras are now common in factories, industries, and residential areas, allowing power theft culprits to monitor the movement of inspection teams. In some cases, industry insiders are informed about impending raids by Discos staff.
The report underscores a lack of training among staff, making it difficult for them to identify hidden chips in meters. Dishonest practices, such as temporarily replacing meters and manipulating readings, contribute to the problem, resulting in inaccurate billing for electricity consumption.
While some Discos have started installing AMR meters (Automator Reading) in industries connected with SIM data for real-time monitoring, many connections still rely on old methods of theft.
Additionally, the report identifies various factors contributing to line losses, including the excessive length of 11KV lines, faulty conductors, damaged transformers, and overloading. The lack of proper transformer repair facilities is also highlighted, with many transformers being repaired by private workshops without essential maintenance equipment.
Non-standard copper winding quality in transformers is noted as a major cause of losses. The report points out that many subdivisions of Discos serve more customers than they can handle, leading to a shortage of staff. Corruption in charging consumers exorbitant fees for new connections has also been reported, with some staff members living luxurious lifestyles.
The report concludes by highlighting the need for addressing corruption and ensuring legitimate facilities for employees, as well as focusing on improving infrastructure and staff training to combat power theft effectively.