Power theft at Byrnihat Industrial Area
SHILLONG, March 31: Pending a thorough independent investigation, the Meghalaya Energy Corporation (MeCL) has transferred all vigilance officers from Ri-Bhoi district for failing to check pilferage of power in the Byrnihat Industrial Area.
MeCL Chairman-cum-Managing Director Arun Kembhavi today stated that the vigilance officials had been transferred as a preliminary move and further action would be taken on the basis of the findings of an independent probe.
The power theft in the Byrnihat Industrial Area came to light after the CMD conducted a surprise inspection of the area on January 26 and found several industries allegedly indulging in power theft by tampering with meters.
Kembhavi said that several norms were flouted by the industries although it is not certain if it was done in connivance with the MeCL officials.
“If investigation reveals that certain officers have been in collusion with the errant industrialists, any action contemplated by the State Government will be duly initiated against them,” the CMD stated firmly.
According to the CMD, the meters in the industrial area have not been calibrated since 2004. Moreover, the substation near the industrial area did not keep most of the mandatory records.
As per law, meters need to be changed every five years, he said, adding that the Byrnihat Industrial Area consumes 40 per cent of the total power in the State.
Due to such pilferage of power and other reasons, the MeCL has a huge aggregate technical and commercial loss. Kembhavi said that efforts are on to automate the billing process to stop power pilferage.
“Automation is going to upset the system and there are certain vested interests which are deeply troubled by this,” Kembhavi said.
One of the ways to bring in automation is by installing smart meters – which is allegedly being opposed by a section of engineers. Kembhavi said that in Meghalaya, 2,300 million units (MUs) of power are distributed per year, but only 1,700 MUs are billed.
“This means that 600 MUs are lost and if calculated by Rs 5 per unit, we lose about Rs 300 crore per year. An amount of Rs 3,000 crore was presumptively lost in the past 10 years,” he pointed out.
Kembhavi said that he is going to submit a report to the Government about the power theft in the Byrnihat area. He said he has evidence of meters being tampered with. An independent inquiry will be able to unearth the larger conspiracy, he added.
“It is up to the Government to refer the matter to a competent authority for further investigation,” Kembhavi said.