Power theft is extensive in India, particularly, in New Delhi it is a big problem today. More than half of the electricity generated is stolen. With 600 million people already without any electricity and increasing demand for electricity, power theft is one of the most serious challenges we are facing today.
According to a 2007 government report power companies across the country lose an average of 40 percent of the power generated. The situation was especially bad in New Delhi — the same report called the capital’s state power company “a corrupt and inefficient monopoly” that offered “abysmally poor service.” The theft has resulted in a debt of more than $3 billion for electricity board in New Delhi in 2002.
In the same year, subsidiaries of Reliance ADA Group and Tata Group, two of India’s most powerful conglomerates, entered a partnership with the government to distribute power in the capital and halt the losses. Reliance and Tata had impressive track records in Mumbai, the country’s largest city, where power distribution losses are among the lowest in the country.
Through dozens of power raids every week, among other strategies, they have managed to dramatically reduce theft in Delhi. BSES, the Reliance subsidiary that handles two-thirds of Delhi’s power, has sent more than 650 people to prison and booked more than 114,000 cases in special courts that handle only electricity cases. By the end of last year, BSES, where Seth works, had cut theft from around 52 percent in 2002 to 28 percent.