Gilgit-Baltistan-Rs280m lost to power theft every year

People in Gilgit-Baltistan are not in the habit of paying their bills given that recovery system in the power department is weak. ILLUSTRATION: MOHSIN ALAM

GILGIT: Gilgit-Baltistan bears a loss of Rs 280 million every year due to power theft by consumers, officials said.

“The annual power production is around of Rs320 million in the region while recovery is around 40 million,” an official in the power department said on Sunday. He said that the people in Gilgit-Baltistan are not in the habit of paying their bills given that recovery system in the power department is weak.

With a population of approximately 1.4 million, Gilgit-Baltistan faces a severe power crisis especially in the winters when rivers and lakes are frozen, leading to over 22-hour long breakdown daily.

According to officials, the performance of the billing section of the power department is also a matter of concern for them in Gilgit-Baltistan as the meter-readers are more sympathetic to consumers. “They don’t collect actual amount from the users besides helping them distort figures in the meters,” he said and added that as a result, the government fails to gather sufficient revenue to run its affairs smoothly.

Compared to the rest of the country, the system of checks and balances is least effective in the Gilgit-Baltistan power department, said the official requesting anonymity. He said that despite installation of new meters at every residence, offices and other workplaces, consumers have been able to find means to cheat the government, thanks to the meter readers. “There are several ways of cheating but such malpractices cannot be done without support,” he said..

According to other officials, the long intervals of load shedding has always put the government on the back foot as they cannot take stringent measures for recovery of the bills from the residents since most of them are not well off.

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