Thieves have a field day in the ambitious Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojna (RGGVY) in Odisha. The RGGVY, a Centrally-sponsored rural electrification programme, has suffered serious setback following frequent theft of transformers and conductors during its execution in several districts of the state.
The State Energy Department has shot off a letter to the district SPs seeking their help. The problem, though, is bizarre. In at least six districts, the executing agencies have found to their horror that distribution transformers and conductors are being regularly stolen. While the agencies have turned to police, the latter is alleged to have refused to register the first information reports (FIRs).
Three Central public sector undertakings—NTPC, NHPC and PGCIL—are executing RGGVY in Odisha since 2008-2009.
The agencies recently reported quite a few number of thefts of distribution transformers and conductors from Khurda, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Cuttack and Sundargarh districts. When the contractors went to the police to report the theft, their complaints were not registered.
Energy Secretary Pradeep Kumar Jena, in a letter to the SPs of these districts, said that non-registration of the FIRs has caused a delay in the implementation of the programme. “It is reported that the police stations are not registering FIRs of the contractors. Unless the FIR is accepted and a copy is issued, the contractor cannot claim insurance for the theft as a result of which the rural electrification work is hampered,” he said.
Interestingly, the problem was acute in state capital Bhubaneswar where police did not register the FIR. As many as 29 transformers were stolen in a span of one year in Bhubaneswar, Jatni and Balipatna blocks which come under Commissionerate of Police. Similarly, conductors measuring a length of 5.71 km were also found stolen. At least 11 FIRs are still pending registration.
In Khurda Rural, at least 115 transformers and 1.32 km length of conductor were stolen during last one year and three months. The executing agency PGCIL filed 29 complaints but police has not accepted them yet. In neighbouring Cuttack, 81 transformers were stolen. Athagarh block alone accounted for 33 cases of thefts. Eighty-nine FIRs are still pending registration.
In coastal Kendrapara, at least 37 cases of transformers theft were reported but no FIR has been registered yet. The problem is acute in Jagatsinghpur where 167 transformers and conductors measuring a length of 26.84 km were stolen since last year. The contractors filed 83 complaints, all pending till date. Sundargarh district too reported a similar trend.
Police say that the theft cases are suspect. “Contractors report fake thefts to claim insurance money. We make our verification before registering a case. Besides, what kind of thief will risk stealing a transformer which is very heavy and difficult to dispose,” said an officer requesting anonymity.
In Odisha, the Centre has sanctioned over Rs 361 crore for rural electrification under RGGVY. Under the scheme, 29,596 villages have already been electrified while 13,702 are still unelectrified.