4 industrial units caught using remote control for stealing power

S. Vijay Kumar

“They used to switch ‘on’ and ‘off’ the meters at their will

CHENNAI: The Enforcement Wing of the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board recently caught four industrial units in the State using remote control devices to manipulate the functions of digital electrical meters for stealing power.

“They used to switch ‘on’ and ‘off’ the meters at their will, using a remote control. A receiver was inserted in the meter to facilitate the theft. Three plastic manufacturing units in Chennai and a steel foundry in Madurai have been charged with indulging in this kind of theft,” Additional Director-General of Police (Vigilance) V. Balachandran told The Hindu on Thursday.

Since four such cases were reported in a short span, all enforcement squads have been sensitised to the new ‘modus operandi.’ “In one case, a plastic factory paid Rs.3 lakh in compounding fee…they have been asked to pay Rs.24.94 lakh, the assessed amount payable to the TNEB.”

Mr. Balachandran said the incidence of theft was 3.19 per cent in the current year, compared with 2.78 per cent during 2007-08. Enforcement officials inspected the targeted 5 per cent of the total 1.95 crore service connections provided under various categories.

A majority of thefts — at least 60 per cent — were committed by direct tapping (drawing power from live wire with a hook or wire), while the others means included tampering with the meter and illegal restoration of supply.

The surveillance was more on industrial units that consumed a large quantity of power. “Our officials keep a watch on the pattern of consumption in energy-intensive industries. There seems to be no perceptible change in the theft scenario in the backdrop of power cuts,” he said.

Mr. Balachandran said 2,368 thefts were detected in the 74,177 services inspected during 2008-09 fiscal (till October). The loss was estimated to be Rs.5.56 crore, of which Rs.4.51 crore was realised till July. “Besides information gathered through various sources, we have our own mechanism to detect thefts. The number of cases detected in 2002-03 was 1,903, while the number rose to 3,746 last year.”

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