At a time when the Ministry of Power is taking all possible steps to save electricity, operations of one of the most efficient Anti Power Theft Squads (APTS) in north Kerala is yet to resume in the district.
The squad’s operations were temporarily suspended by the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) for reasons unknown.
The Northern Region (NR) squad, formed nearly eight years ago under a team of electricity engineers in Kozhikode district, has been instrumental in exposing several power theft cases in which some industrialists and commercial firms in north Kerala were involved.
One of the six squads
It was one of the six APTS squads in the Malabar region, the others covering Malappuram, Kannur, Kasaragod, and Wayanad districts. The NR squad was the best performing one with its efforts in all the northern districts winning special recognitions from the authorities.
Official sources said the operations of the NR squad were stopped nearly two years ago following an informal direction from the higher-ups. But an order citing the reason for this in black and white did not come from any section, they said.
According to the sources, the NR squad, since its creation in 2003, had brought to light power pilfering cases of around Rs.12.8 crore. Several corrupt firms and industrialists were exposed in the course of action. Of the total assessed pilfering, Rs.8.50 crore had already been remitted to the State exchequer, they added.
A major achievement that proved the efficiency of the squad was the uncovering of three notorious power theft cases by three high-tension consumers from north Kerala. The accused persons were then charged with a total fine of Rs.1.2 crore.
Apparently, the frequent searches conducted by the NR squad had irked some players in the industrial sector. This ultimately lead to the freezing of the squad’s operation.
But as an explanation for the temporary suspension of the NR squad, the top officials told squad members that the department was just reducing the number of squads, as there were already five other regional unit squads.