12 NEA officials among 16 held for electricity theftPolice have arrested 12 Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) officials, including a supervisor, and four others for their involvement in meter tampering, causing loss to the state-owned power utility and contributing to outages.
Police have arrested 12 Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) officials, including a supervisor, and four others for their involvement in meter tampering, causing loss to the state-owned power utility and contributing to outages.
Such meddling with electricity meters, officials believe, contributed to load-shedding, as a handful of people were allowed to enjoy uninterrupted power supply—in return for kickback—forcing majority of consumers to suffer hours-long outages.
Police said the NEA officials in question would tamper with the electricity meters and receive Rs 10,000 to Rs 300,000 in return from owners of garment factories, hotels and other industries. These officials would rejig the electricity meters in such a way that their readings would so far less than the units of electricity actually consumed.
“They were found to be using various devices to tamper with the electricity meters,” said SSP Sarbendra Khanal, chief of Metropolitan Police Crime Division (MPCD), Teku.
Two of the arrestees are Suman Shrestha, 50, supervisor at the NEA, Balaju, and Tahal Bahadur Karki, 56, a former maintenance officer at the NEA. Ten others are meter readers.
Four other arrestees are Kumar Lama, 32, of Manjushree Drinking Water Supplier; Tapan Ghos, 51, a sweets shop owner in Gaushala; Parvej Aalam, 46, a cotton shop owner, and Ramesh Chudal, 38, owner of Rameshwor Sweets Shop.
According to investigating officials, the meter readers would punch less number of units than the actual readings, leading to a sharp decline in the bill amount these “beneficiaries” were liable to pay.
The meter readers used to carry all the equipment required to break the seal and fix it again. They used to recalibrate the meter manually, bringing the units consumed sharply down, and bill accordingly.
“Every day, they used to tamper with meters at 20 to 25 places,” said SSP Khanal. “This has been going on for over a decade.”
The MPCD had initiated investigation following request from the NEA which had found a huge mismatch in the amount of electricity consumed and revenue generated.
Police have also seized various equipment, including seal wire, hooks, wrenches, pliers and hammers, that were used to tamper with the electricity meters.
The arrests have been made hot on the heels of a debate over massive leakage of electricity.
The NEA’s annual report for the fiscal year states that leakage stood at around 26 percent.
The Kathmandu District Court has already remanded the arrestees to five days in custody.