The government has decided to take actions against officials of power distribution companies involved in providing power connections beyond their respective jurisdiction area.
At a meeting held on Sunday, the power, energy and mineral resources ministry also gave one month time for removing the installations of the utilities from areas out of their respective jurisdiction and hand over customers to the utility concerned, power division secretary Ahmad Kaikaus told New Age on Monday.
Otherwise, the officials concerned would be punished for the anomalies, he said.
The utilities tend to prefer industrial and commercial customers as they are high-end consumers and pay higher rates for each unit of electricity, a power division official said.
The ‘unhealthy’ competition among the power distribution utilities developed and was practiced for years as some officials made money by providing power connections and helping customers to evade electric bills, particularly in case of industrial and commercial customers, he explained.
The practice often causes sufferings to the power consumers due to temporary arrangements made by unauthorised utilities to extend power connections within the jurisdiction of other utility, the official thinks.
‘We hope the decision will help reduce corruption in power distribution,’ he added.
The ministry took the hard line in the wake of continued malpractice of the power distribution utilities in providing new power connections in the area demarcated for other utilities, even after the prime minister Sheikh Hasina, also the minister for power and energy, repeatedly instructed officials to stop this in 2016.
In May 2016, the power division also instructed the utilities to strictly maintain their jurisdiction in providing power connections and developing necessary facilities as a report of a power division committee had showed that three distribution utilities violated their jurisdictions in providing power connections.
The committee was formed on April 23, 2015 to examine whether or not the power distribution utilities, particularly Rural Electrification Board, Power Development Board and West Zone Power Distribution Company Limited, were maintaining the boundaries of their distribution areas.
Two subcommittees under the power division committee visited 34 districts.
In 15 districts of Rajshahi, Rangpur and Chittagong divisions, one subcommittee found that PDB and REB both violated their boundaries in many locations.
Similar findings were revealed by the other subcommittee in 19 districts of Barisal and Khulna division where REB and WZPDCL were found supplying power beyond their demarcated boundaries.
In many areas, the committees found that the utilities used the branches of trees or temporary poles in laying power cables which the officials and experts termed highly risky.
The Sunday meeting also decided to demarcate the boundaries of every power distribution utility using GIS technology, the power division secretary informed.
The power utilities were asked to remove temporary lines of one utility from 33 kV line of other utility.
State minister for power and energy Nasrul Hamid chaired the meeting, where he said that the malpractice of the power utilities often deprived the consumers of proper services.
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