ISLAMABAD: The power companies had committed deliberate overbilling in interior Sindh, especially in Sukkur and Hyderabad, where out of total 700,000 consumers, almost 375,000 were reported as defaulters of the Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (HESCO), while about 590,000 people were stealing electricity. This was told to the Senate Standing Committee on Water and Power, which met on Monday at the Parliament House with Senator Sardar Muhammad Yaqub Khan in the chair. The meeting was informed that dams were being constructed in areas of Balochistan where agriculture was nonexistent, while demand of electricity has plunged down due to excessive load shedding. The chairman instructed the Ministry of Water and Power to ensure the supply of electricity at least for those consumers who pay their bills regularly. “Payers and defaulters could not be hauled with the same stick,” he said, adding that electricity that was available in the system should be distributed among the people on the basis of equality. He said that the bad practice of collecting funds from consumers for repair of transformers should be abolished. “Whenever any transformer in Sindh is defected, WAPDA collected money from people to for its repair,” he added. Senator Nauman Wazir said that the defence institutions do not allow installation of AMR metres, whereas these organisations come under the orbit of Pakistani law and the purpose of installation of metres was to estimate the units consumed. “No consumer can steal electricity without the connivance of the staffers of power companies,” he said, suggesting that in order to prevent power pilfering, services of experienced engineers might be hired. Senator Taj Haider said that a committee should be formed to investigate power theft on large scale in Sukkur and Hyderabad. Another member of the committee, Mukhtar Ahmed, informed that five people died due to electricity problems in Hyderabad but the federal government did not give a single penny to their heirs as compensation, whereas in Lahore, Rs one million each was given to the relatives of those who died due to the same reason. The Ministry of Water and Power additional secretary said that the system of distribution of electricity has become obsolete and cannot bear the full load of electricity. He said that load shedding is being carried out in areas where the recovery was not being made. He said that USAID has provided a system of automatic metre reading. The HESCO CEO told the committee that 80 percent of electricity was being stolen at Sukkur. He confessed that the deliberate overbilling was carried out in the past in Sukkur and Hyderabad. He said that some corrupt low paid staff was backing pilfers, as they take bribe from the people involved in the power theft. He said that some 23,000 pilfers were apprehended as they were pilfering about 97,000 units from Sukkur. He said that 800 stealers of electricity were booked and FIRs were registered against them at concerned police stations. He said that the Federal Complaint Cell had received 996 complaints and Regional Complaint Cell got 1,414 complaints regarding HESCO and all the complaints were resolved.