Stealing power is not only a criminal offense but a great loss to the national exchequer. It aggravates power shortage especially in a country where demand is always more than production.
Since 2008, around 3104 cases of power theft were registered from Mysore, Mandya, Kodagu, Chamarajanagar and Hassan districts imposing a penalty of Rs 39,149,728. Of these 3090 cases were convicted and Rs 36,926,664 of fine amount was collected. While the remaining amount is yet to be recovered from the 14 cases that are in various stages of prosecution.
Compared to Mysore and Chamarajanagar, it is observed that power thefts in Mandya and Hassan is more rampant. Out of 3104 cases booked, 2047 were from Mandya and Hassan, 556 from Mysore and Kodagu and the remaining 501 cases from Chamarajanagar.
Over the years the number of cases registered have seen a gradual decline, but only in the districts of Mysore-Kodagu and Chamarajanagar. In 2008-09 financial year, 232 cases were booked in Mysore and Kodagu the number of cases registered fell in the subsequent years to 152 (2009-10), 97 (2010-11) and 75 (2011-12).
While in the case of Chamarajanagar though 217 cases were registered in 2008 it came down to 108, 80 and 96 in the following years. Strict enforcement by the vigilance squad of the ESCOMs seems to have worked effectively.
According to officials of the vigilance department of CHESCOM (Chamundeshwari Electricity Supply Corporation Limited) majority of theft cases booked were for illegally bypassing meter, meter tampering, using domestic tariffs for commercial purposes, using agriculture power for manufacturing mud and cement bricks, stealing power by putting a hook to the overhead electric wire and other such crimes. There were even instances where the energy meters were either smashed or burnt deliberately in order to avoid paying the bills.
'Power theft is a criminal offense and is punishable under law. In case of accidents where an unauthorized connection has been taken, two cases will be booked – one will be criminal case for stealing power and other for the death or undue loss where the victim will not get any compensation,' said the officer.
At present cases of unauthorised connection are not being booked as the officials are awaiting Government's order for regularization of such unauthorised connections.