Staff member
Ludhiana August 13:
Though they are getting free power, farmers do not shy away from stealing it. In July alone, the Punjab State Electricity Board unearthed more than 5,300 power theft cases in agriculture sector all across the state and more than Rs 10-crore penalty was imposed.
However, the farmers have failed to pay even the outstanding amount, leave aside paying penalties. Fearing political pressure and attack by villagers, the PSEB authorities have not disconnected the tubewell connections of majority of the violators. Sources said the PSEB enforcement wing had disconnected a few tubewell connections, but the farmers got them restored.
Notably, to reduce power theft cases, the PSEB had increased per horse power penalty from Rs 1,000 to Rs 7,700 from January 1, thinking that huge fine will deter farmers from theft. However, apart from slapping notices, no major action has been taken.
Interestingly, out of the 5,300 theft cases, 2,485 were detected from Ludhiana alone, and a penalty of Rs 1.36 crore was imposed on the farmers. Majority of the cases have been reported from Lalton, Riakot, Narangwal and Pakhowal, and farmers have been slapped Rs 79-lakh fine. Farmers run tubewell at a load that is double of the sanctioned capacity, while those who do not have a connection, operate the motor through kundis from the low tension wires.
PSEB officers said whenever they go to disconnect connections, they face the ire of the villagers. A few days ago, two junior engineers (JEs) in Samrala were beaten up by the villagers of Haion Kalan after they unearthed illegal tubewell connections being run by one Nirpal Singh. Recently, a team was gheraoed in Riakot and the police help was sought.
PSEB authorities, however, claimed that they were taking strict action against the violators. BS Bath, Chief Engineer, Ludhiana Central Zone, said, “We snap the power connection when a theft case is detected.”