ISLAMABAD - The federal government Saturday said that crackdown against power thieves and defaulters would continue at any cost, come what may, because the national kitty is facing heavy loss of Rs 1 trillion annually and ailing power sector could not afford such huge losses.

State minister designate for water & power Chaudhry Abid Sher Ali gave these remarks, first at a high level meeting and later during a press conference held here in the premises of Water and Power Ministry.

Sources privy to the development told this scribe that state minister designate for water & power had presided over an important meeting on action against power theft here in the premises of water & power ministry. Officials of Pakistan’s power ministry, Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), and power distributing companies (Discos) also attended the meeting, which ended with a conclusion that strict action against electricity thieves and power bill defaulters would continue come what may.

The minister designate speaking on the occasion made it clear to the participants of the meeting that stringent crack down against power thieves and bill defaulters would go on as country was facing one trillion loss annually due to slow pace of recovery of the soaring outstanding dues and absence of strict action against power theft. The minister designate also ordered to immediately disconnect power supply of the defaulters. He also instructed to take strict actions against officials offering soft cushions instead of iron hands to the power thieves and the electricity bills defaulters. He also made it clear to meeting that head of a Disco would be removed from the top slot in case of poor performance.

“A stern action against power thieves and bill defaulters would carry on across the country,” he said, adding,” those officials who are responding to electricity thieves and power bill defaulters very politely would be taken to task.”

Representatives of power distributing companies (Discos) while giving briefing to the meeting disclosed sky rocketing amount, which is yet to be recovered from the influential defaulters and also lodged complaints against the high power theft being made across the country. They told the meeting that above Rs250billion is yet to be recovered from the mighty power defaulters.

Upset by the poor performance of Peshawar Electric Supply Company (PESCO) amid persistent energy crisis of the country, Chaudhry Abid Sher Ali expressed serious concerns coupled with reservations about the inaction of the power utility. He said that power thieves and defaulters had ruined the entire power sector.

The state minister designate for water & power Chaudry Abid Sher Ali after holding the meeting also conducted a press conference. During the conference, the minister designate was found very much frustrated like the top leadership of PML-N over rising outstanding dues of power consumers and power theft. While giving details of sky high one trillion rupees outstanding dues causing loss to the country he said that ailing power sector was bearing one trillion annual loss owing to rising power theft coupled with absence of recovery of the burgeoning outstanding dues lying pending with the defaulters on account of power bills for a long time.

 He also said: “A decision pertaining serious crack down against power thieves and power bill defaulters has been taken come what may. Ironically, power consumers of 148 power feeders of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are not paying dues from past five years and in result the country is earning Rs11billion annual loss. Similar is the case with 15,000 tube well consumers of Balouchistan province. The owners of these tube wells are not paying their heavy outstanding dues, which had reached at Rs54billion annually.  Again, Rs12billion annual loss to the country is only because of unpaid bills of power consumers of tribal areas of the country. Similarly, Sukkur Electric Supply Company (SEPCO) has yet to recover Rs35billion from different private organizations private and Rs22billion from state owned organizations. And, last but not the least the Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (HESCO) has yet to recover high Rs22billion from state owned bodies.”

The state minister designate for water and power who is so far determined to take severe action against power thieves and outstanding dues of power consumers also made it very clear that PML-N government would not let the thieves and defaulters free. And, without an end to power theft, power loadshedding would not be controlled.

Replying to a question pertaining power cuts during ‘Sehri, Iftar and Taraveeh’ hours in the holy month of Ramazan despite much touted tall claims of no loadshedding during these hours and the protests being carried out by the masses in various parts of the country, Ch Abid Sher Ali gave a unique logic-cum justification that these protest demonstrators are power thieves as power cuts are being made only in those area where power theft is carried on and on.