Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has asked electricity distribution companies and police to form special squads to detect power thefts in Maharashtra.
The suggestion was given by a bench headed by Justice P V Hardas, which was yesterday hearing a PIL alleging power thefts in the state during Ganesh and Navratri festivals by public mandals and praying for a check to stop such illegal practices.
The court was informed that an earlier judgement of the High Court in a similar case had suggested formation of special squads to detect power thefts.
The judges sought to know whether the ratio in that case can be applied here to track down thefts of electricity during the festivals.
Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (MSEDCL) had filed an affidavit saying it had formed 42 flying squads in vigilance department to detect power thefts. During festivals, temporary connection was given to the applicants and low tariff is charged. This discourages power thefts, it had said.
The temporary power connections in the state during festivals had increased from 581 in 2010-2011 to 1,154 in 2011-12 and 1,889 in 2012-13,MSEDCL had said in the affidavit.
The power company had said it had opened a website to report theft of energy and the website is monitored regularly by the staff in the head office. All those found involved in power thefts are booked by the vigilance department.
The theft cases detected during 2011-2012 were 5,377 and 8,264 during 2012-2013, MSEDCL said, adding that due to constant vigilance in detecting power thefts, there has been a significant reduction in distribution losses.
MSEDCL said it was equipped with latest electronic gadgets to detect power thefts and that it was competent to investigate all types of electricity thefts. Its raiding teams carry out surprise checks on weekends and holidays.
The PIL, filed by ex-journalist Ketan Tirodkar, alleged that during Ganesh and Navratri festivals, public mandals collect huge amounts as donations for organising celebrations and despite that, they are given heavy concessions in power usage by the state power utilities.