The highest penalty for power theft in the State — Rs.3.87 crore—has been imposed on consumers in Ernakulam district.
The fine was imposed by the Anti-Power Theft wing of the vigilance department under the Kerala State Electricity Board in 2012-13.
The board imposed a total fine of Rs.25.1 crore on consumers who indulged in power theft across the State, involving 2.53 crore units of power.
Close behind Ernakulam are Palakkad and Thiruvanthapuram where erring consumers would have to pay up Rs.3.20 crore and Rs.2.42 crore.
The penalty has registered considerable increase over the years; it was Rs.17 crore and Rs.13 crore in 2011-12 and 2010-11 respectively.
Double the normal tariff is charged as penalty once power theft is detected.
“Unless there is a record of the actual period of theft, the penalty will be applicable for a one-year period,” a top official of the APT wing said.
A few consumers challenged the penalty in court, but a majority paid up, the official said.
Of the 400 cases booked in 2012-13, 276 offenders were domestic consumers; 62 were agricultural consumers; 39 commercial consumers and five industrial consumers.
Irregularities were noticed on the part of 17 consumers in the High Tension-Extra High Tension category. Over 300 cases of faulty electric meters were also detected.
An official said the number of defaulters would have been much higher, if the board had not introduced the voluntary disclosure scheme.
Many consumers availed themselves of the scheme.