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Punjab

PUNJAB-Meter tampering loss Rs 250 cr, PSPCL sits on scam

September 10, 2018 06:12 AM

COURTESY THE TRIBUNE SEPT 10
Free run for officers as power corpn losses mount, CMD will ask police to expedite investigation
Aman Sood

Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 9

In 2016, more than 12 officers of the Punjab State Power Corporation (PSPCL) in Nabha were found tampering with meter readings of 40 consumers. An FIR was lodged only in July 2017. The investigation is incomplete.

In May this year, a billing scam was detected in Bathinda. No FIR was filed, only an employee was suspended. And two months later, the PSPCL team unearthed a billing scam in Ludhiana. An FIR was lodged. During the same period, a head cashier and cashier were suspended in another scam. Only last month, the Nabha police booked a head cashier and SDO for defrauding PSPCL of Rs 55 lakh.


The loss as a result of meter manipulation has been pegged at Rs 250 crore in the past five years,. Choosing to pass the buck to junior or contractual staff, PSPCL has held several departmental inquiries, invariably sparing senior officers of the rank of SDO and above. Seldom has a criminal case been filed and when filed, it has been seldom pursued.

Baldev Singh Sran, PSPCL CMD, says he will approach the police top brass to expedite investigations into all such billing scams and unmask senior officers who have caused huge losses in connivance with juniors.

“After computerised billing was introduced in 2013, officials began tampering with meter readings, striking a deal directly with consumers. We have recommended action against some senior officials. But full-time directors alone have the authority to initiate action against them,” sources in the PSPCL say.

Aware of the enormity of the problem, the PSPCL has updated its software. “Officers can no longer change readings of the previous month and do not have access to old readings. We have tried to make the system foolproof,” claims CMD Sran.

BILLING SCANDAL

Select consumers are asked not to deposit bimonthly power bills for a year
Password is misused and original meter reading is tampered with on the server, showing it to be much less than actual units consumed
Power meters are later shown damaged or burnt and replaced with new ones

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