Sunny Sebastian

With power thefts a thing of the past, the future is bright and glowing for thousands in Rajasthan now

SHAHPURA: There is a new energy in the lives of thousands of villagers across Rajasthan these days with availability of round-the-clock power. The dramatic transformation from darkness to light has come as recognition for the villages which have kept their commitment not to steal electricity.

Of course, it is another matter that the loss reduction programmes of the power distribution companies in the State, introduced a few months back, have made life difficult for those who used to indulge in pilferage of the scarce commodity in the vast desert State.

The villages got the 24-hour power after their T&D (transmission and distribution) losses, which are mostly losses due to theft, came down to less than 15 per cent. Earlier, in many of the villages the losses ranged from 37 per cent to 70 per cent. In fact, the whole of Rajasthan registered a dramatic reduction of 5.47 per cent in T&D losses during 2006-07.

Khori village in Shahpura division served by Jaipur Vidyut Vitran Nigam Limited prides itself on the new distinction of being among 70 villages chosen for the 24-hour uninterrupted supply of electricity for domestic consumers since July.

The facility has changed the status of the inhabitants of the locality, some 4 km inside the Jaipur-Delhi stretch of National Highway No. 8.

“In the rural areas here the losses due to electricity theft used to be 30 per cent on an average. Wherever the level has come down to 15 per cent, we have started providing 24-hour power supply,” says D. S. Choudhary, Executive Engineer of Shahpura division, adding, The enthusiasm is widespread. In Thana Gazi tehsil of Alwar district, AEN Sultan Khan said he had received 3,000 applications for new power connections after his area, situated on the periphery of Sariska Project Tiger Reserve, started getting round-the-clock power.

“The genuine customers are the happiest. They are no more made to pay for their neighbours’ follies,” said Mr. Khan.

The power corporations, desperately battling the power thefts in the past, had even introduced severe penalties which included disconnecting power to the entire village in case of proven theft or non-payment of bills by a few villagers.

In fact, prior to the discoms — there are three of them in Rajasthan -- taking up the Loss Reduction Programme that includes FRP (Feeder Renovation Programme), UFP (Urban Focus Programme) and IFP (Industrial Focus Programme), there was near chaos in the sector. The domestic power supply remained abysmal with barely three hours’ availability in the rural areas -- that too of poor voltage. Burnt-out transformers used to be a regular feature and so were quarrels between the rural people and the electricity staff.

The once naked wires from the 11 KV feeders now stand insulated so that no one can take electricity directly from the power lines any more. “The round-the-clock power supply has changed our lives. It has brought a new dignity to us,” says Om Prakash, a proud villager.

“The children are the biggest beneficiaries. Now they can study at night,” points out Madan Lal, another villager. In fact the village, which first got electricity some four decades ago, is electrified in the true sense only now.

According to Jaipur Vidyut Vitran Nigam Ltd Chairman & Managing Director R. G. Gupta, it all started with a pilot project in Badhal village, the most notorious place for power thefts, two years ago. “When we talked about round-the-clock supply, they did not believe it first. Then slowly things started improving,” he says.

The success of Badhal -- where the losses were as high as 70 per cent once -- prompted the Government to adopt the programme.

According to Mr. Gupta, within a few months 10,000 villages in the State would be brought under the scheme. Now there are 8,500 villages in Rajasthan in this privileged category.

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