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Home News Power Sector News MSEDCL to start all-woman squads from Feb-2010 to curb power thefts

MSEDCL to start all-woman squads from Feb-2010 to curb power thefts

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MSEDCLAs many as 40 allwomen squads will keep an eye on billing irregularities, meter tampering and power thefts in the state from February onwards. The squads will be set up by the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (MSEDCL) and will be called Damini squads . They will report directly to the superintending engineers of the respective circles. An MSEDCL official said that the squads will remain operational for three months. We will continue with their services after assessing their performance and results. The MSEDCL has also issued orders asking all 140 MSEDCL divisions in the state to give three per cent of the billing jobs to womens self help groups (SHGs), he said.

The order was given, following complaints from consumers about incorrect meter readings and delay in receiving bills. At present, billingrelated work, including recording meter readings, taking digital photographs of the readings and distribution of bills has been outsourced to various agencies.

Elaborating on the Damini squads, the official said that each of the 40 MSEDCL circles will have one squad headed by a female junior/assistant engineer . She will have three women assistants who are pass-outs of the Industrial Training Institutes (ITI) and will have technical know-how required for the job. These assistants will be hired on a three-month contract and get daily payment of Rs 300 each. Their working hours will be from 10 am to 4 pm. Each squad will be given a vehicle to facilitate quick movement, he said.

The superintending engineers (SE) of the respective circles will closely monitor the billing process and billing efficiency of all areas under his/her jurisdiction. If he finds that billing in a particular area is abnormally lower or gets complaints about irregularities while taking meter readings from a particular area, he will send the Damini squad to that area to cross check the billing process. If the squad discovers instances of meter tampering or deliberate under-reporting of meter readings, the squad will inform the SE, who in turn will take corrective action , the official said.

The Damini squads will also report cases of power thefts they notice during their inspection. The squads will directly inform the SE about theft cases and the communication will be only oral. Names of squad members who give such tips will be kept secret to ensure their safety. If thefts are indeed found, the squad member will be given financial incentive, he said.

The official clarified that the Damini squads will be deputed only in urban areas of the MSEDCL circles.

He said that MSEDCL thought of setting up the squads and giving three per cent of the billing work to SHGs to enable women to come out of the traditional jobs of making papads, pickles and spices to earn money. Another benefit of the Damini squad will be that women consumers will find it more easy to approach the squad or answer queries if the squad visits their homes for cross checking during the afternoons when male members of the family are at work, he said.

Source- Business standard

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