One percent loss of power means Rs500 million

July 12 - 18, 2004

The management of Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC), which is suffering from huge line losses (theft), estimated around 40 percent, is likely to shift from government control into the private hands after privatization.

According to an official estimated one percent loss of power means Rs500 million that means there is a leakage of about Rs20 billion per annum in the KESC system on account of line losses.

Although the present management headed by Brig. Tariq Sadduzai has chalkedout some action plans to prevent line losses including shift of the meters outside the premises of the consumers and replacement of naked copper wires by costly cables, yet the volume of power theft continues to be the same as besides illegal kunda consumers, the KESC is also provided official Kunda by providing power connections at fixed charges.

Taking advantage of the new strategy on the pretext to gain something instead of losing the entire power, the power thieves and the corrupt officials with the KESC have started taking full advantage of the conditions. The lucky consumer who managed to get official kunda at fixed monthly charges becomes eligible to use power irrespective to the volume of the units he consumes. In some cases such official kundas have been given to the under construction housing projects where cranes or lifters, air conditioners and high powered search lights are being used at a free will. This however created a lot of problems for the genuine consumers who are facing breakdowns and fluctuation in their power supply. These official Kundas are naturally given only to the consumers who managed to please the staff invested with the authority to.

The Temporary Load Connection (TLC) and Bulk Supply Connection (BSC) are new methods, apart from countless Kundas in various parts of Karachi. The Bulk Supply Connections have given to many apartment complexes after the TL connections were disconnected. The builders obtained the TL connections before starting construction on the plot and many builders vanished from the scene without getting regular power connections for the allottees of the individual units in the project. In most of the cases the builder whisked away after collecting the dues and now the allottees or the KESC are left to face the music. Such type of situation calls strong measures against such builders to hoodwinked the clients as well as the utility companies. The KESC officials woke up when Army took over the KESC and disconnected the TL connections.

One may smell the rat in the process of load assessment and fixing the charges where in a way permission is granted for power theft officially. The lucky consumers of official kundas after getting the connection were eligible of using air-conditioners and other extra electrical appliances or may supply the power in the neighborhood also to make some extra income as well. Consequently power consumption is much time higher than the assessed load. If the government and the KESC was really serious to plug the leakages in the system, such official kundas should be removed forthwith as such legal kundas causing rampant corruption in the system under nose of the law, while the genuine consumers were suffering due to exorbitant electricity charges studded with huge taxes on power consumption.

The management has also introduced relief packages for the defaulters, which has not only provided relief to large number of defaulters but has helped in accelerating the pace of recovery of the dues outstanding for a long period. Under this package, the domestic, commercial or industrial consumers can go in the billing zone and have 30 installments of the outstanding amount with out any penalty of long process. The package was highly appreciated at all levels.

The KESC spokesman said that management couldn't protect the entire power distribution network spread all over the city and in the suburbs. KESC management on its part had planned to set up a network of 14,000 KV frequency from which power can not be stolen as in that system power frequency need to be converted into required frequency. A pilot project was announced and implemented in Surjani Town but was not resumed in other parts of the Karachi. In the suburban localities temporary Kundas system has gone to a record high level in which the power thieves put the Kundas in night and remove in the morning. Power theft at this massive scale will further put the legitimate and regular bill payer into more crises, as the loss has to be passed to them at last.