Saturday, June 4, 2011

Ex-servicemen to help curb power theft

Vivek Narayanan, TNN, Jun 3, 2011, 12.04am IST
CHENNAI: They guarded the borders during their tenure in the army. Soon ex-servicemen will be lending a helping hand to the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB) to crack down on power theft in the state.

This is part of the new government's initiative to bring down electricity theft in the state which forms a major component of the state's transmission and distribution losses that take away 18% of all power generation. "If power theft is reduced, crores of rupees can be saved. The board's financial situation will improve to a great extent," said a source.

During the financial year 2009-2010, the TNEB's enforcement wing detected 6,230 cases of theft. Next year, that number increased by 5%. "We have been seeing more and more incidents of theft. We need to crack down on at the earliest," said a senior TNEB official.

Though the TNEB's enforcement wing nabs such offenders quite often, they are helpless while confronting unruly elements. The staff are not trained to handle rough situations. Hence, the power ministry has decided to take the help of the ex-servicemen. "They are well trained and not afraid of confronting people who sometimes use physical violence on officers," said the TNEB source.

There are over a lakh ex-servicemen in the state and the TNEB's vigilance and enforcement wing needs atleast 250 of them to help crack down on power pilferage across the state. The former soldiers will gather information about electricity theft and accompany the TNEB officials to the site and nab the pilferer. As the job involves physical strain, the TNEB is looking out for candidates between the age of 40 to 50 years.

Captain M David, incharge of Tamil Nadu ex-servicemen helpline in Fort St George, said former army personnel will only be too happy to help. "Most of them serve as sentries in front of houses or offices. This has brought their morale down. But such a task will motivate them," said David.

According to TNEB officials, the most rampant type of power theft now is misuse of electricity connection. "The consumer takes a domestic connection, but uses it to run a small business. Such pilferage is on the rise in Chennai and other districts. But we are cracking down heavily on such people, too," said the official.
Ex-servicemen to help curb power theft

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