Days after the Power Development Department (PDD) asked its field staff to book those consumers who are caught stealing power in the Valley, its employees have refused the directive but said that they will appeal people to consume electricity judiciously. PDD Electrical Employees Union president Abdul Salam Rajpori told KNS that the no member of the field staff will go with the police to book consumers who resort to power stealing. “We will not obey the Government’s directive about going with police to book consumers. We will carry out inspection on our own in the way which PDD was carrying before,” Rajpori told KNS. PDD had on December 24 issued a public advertisement in local dailies about “strengthening its inspection squads”. “Now apart from metered areas, inspection will be carried out in non-metered localities, while those found resorting to power theft will be booked under J&K State Electricity Regularity Act (JKSERA) of 2010 by virtue of which apart from fine, the offenders can face imprisonment,” PDD had said in the order. PDD inspection squads will be assisted by personnel from concerned police stations. Rajpori expressed concern about the police assistance to the PDD, saying “If we go with police squads, it will invite public wrath against us, and endanger our lives.” “We are a part of this society; we live among people and not in police barracks. We don’t need pellet guns and shells during inspections,” he said. PDD Commissioner Secretary Dheeraj Gupta had held a meeting last month at Kashmir Divisional Commissioner’s office here for taking measures to curb power thefts, which was attended by Inspector General of Police (Kashmir), Development Commissioner Power and the Chief Engineer (EM&RE), while the Divisional Commissioner was represented by Assistant Commissioner (Revenue) for taking measures to curb power thefts. The Government’s directive was opposed by the civil society and the opposition National Conference. The employees said that ministers and bureaucrats are “far from public pulse” and issue such orders without knowing the real problems facing people about electricity and also the Power sector. They blamed the legislators and ministers for mounting power woes in the state. “MLAs and ministers issue transformers to people for vote banks, without knowing about the power supply and requirement in the state. From the last 12 years, 800 MW of electricity has been added without knowing the feasibility,” Rajpori said. He said that each consumer in Kashmir pay Rs 97 more than Jammu counterparts for domestic use, yet the former face curtailments. He said that ministers and PDD officials defame Valley consumers by labeling them ‘power thieves’ and other such terms.
2015 Kashmir Despatch