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LAHORE: No immediate clearance of a backlog of 650,000 pending applications for new connections is possible because the Lahore Electric Supply Company (Lesco) is simultaneously replacing the faulty meters of consumers, said sources.

They said the company was accommodating applications for new connections against the requests for replacement of faulty meters at a ratio of 50:50. Therefore, they said, the long drawn pendency of new connections is piling up with every passing day.

According to the sources, out of the total pendency, some 55,000 applications belong to industrial consumers, 25,000 to tube-well owners, 40,000 to commercial consumes while rest of the applications are from the domestic consumers.

It may be noted that the board of directors (BoDs) of all the 10 Discos are already facing criticism for undue delay in procurement of new electricity meters and clearing the backlog.

The sources said a high pendency of applications for new connections has led to non-utilization of 1,950 megawatt (MW) electricity load, against whom the government is continuously paying raw capacity charges to the independent power producers (IPPs).

Meanwhile, the Corona-specific uncertainty over the last two years has also played role in delayed procurement of meters, as the vendors had withdrawn their bids in panic once the prices had jumped after the issuance of purchase orders by Discos.

The Board of Lesco has recently sanctioned procurement of 700,000 single phase meters a few months back, followed by start of supplies by the meter manufacturers. The company has released 30,000 single phase meters for domestic consumers in the city.

The sources said the power sector companies are commonly facing the issue of recovery of arrears irrespective of their locations. They said the phenomenon of 30,000 vacant posts in Discos has slowed down recovery drive.

Similarly, they added, the provincial governments are non-cooperative in providing administrative support to Discos and instead preferring to play an adversarial role so far as provisioning of police force to the recovery teams of Discos and registration of criminal cases is concerned.

So much so, the provincial departments carry massive defaults of their respective Discos and all the recovery notices fall on deaf ears of the concerned departments. There is also a late disposal of recovery suits by the courts of law. The provincial set ups, they added.

Also, they added, all the Discos were busy with correction of excessive billing while admitting that the billing process was faulty to the extent that it was inviting consumers’ wrath by and large. Meanwhile, they added, the Discos were involved in revenue-based load shedding, which is again exposing the lingering incapability of Discos across the country.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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