Discoms have launched a major crackdown on e-rickshaws that have been stealing power. It is estimated that more than 1 lakh e-rickshaws ply in the capital.
On average, these vehicles consume 7-10 units daily and most run on stolen electricity. So each such e-rickshaw consumes around 2,500-3,600 units yearly. Discoms have claimed that electricity worth Rs 200 crore is stolen every year. In the past few weeks, over 50 cases of power theft have been registered and another 20 are in the process of being filed.
"Direct theft of electricity of over 500kW has been reported. The theft cases have been lodged on illegal charging points, each of which provide electricity to 100-250 e-rickshaws daily," said a discom source.
The areas where the violations have been found include Keshavpuram, Civil Lines, Raghubir Nagar, Tagore Garden, Madipur, Sangam Vihar, Batla House, Kalkaji, Sarai Kale Khan, Dakshinpuri East, Sagarpur, and Seelampur. "The e-rickshaws are charged in a batch of 50. The entire operation is controlled by the local mafia and they charge around Rs 100 from every driver," said the official.
It usually takes 6-7 hours to charge an e-rickshaw and the theft is usually done at night. However, the power utilities said that charging vehicles using live wires poses a huge safety risk as it can cause electrocution. A few days ago, a couple was electrocuted while charging their e-rickshaw in northwest Delhi's Aman Vihar.
Discoms have demanded that e-rickshaws be charged as per commercial tariffs and DERC is working towards developing a policy.