Varanasi comes up with novel way to tackle power theft
NEW DELHI: In a country that loses a quarter of its electricity to theft, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's parliamentary constituency — Varanasi — has shown a way out by pushing distribution cables underground and deploying technology to stop illegal connections.
Since work on overhauling the shaky distribution network began a year ago, power losses have drastically come down from 45% to below 10% in the Old Kashi area of the holy city, while the number of legal connections have jumped nearly 14% and improved the discom's revenue collection.
As work on underground cabling and removal of overhead supply lines progressed, consumers find tapping —a common practice in semi-urban India —nearly impossible. Tripping devices in the network have made it easier to detect illegal connections and punish the guilty. This is evident from over 100 FIRs filed for power theft.
The Central transmission utility was entrusted with the onerous task of modernizing the rickety distribution network spread over a wide area, spanning an 8-km arch along Ganga and running two km into the city from its banks, under the Centre's Integrated Power Development Scheme. The main work of laying cables, adding distribution transformers for improved efficiency with a smaller cluster of households, interlinking substations into a ring form and other technical upgrades have been completed in the entire scheme area, including all heritage sites. Only work on dismantling poles and shifting meters on outside walls of houses in some areas remain.