The Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) following the footsteps of Lays has obtained a fatwa (religious decree) from 12 top Ulema against electricity theft, declaring it a ‘sin’ as reported by BBC. The thieves are costing KESC 1bn rupees ($12.3m) a month.
Typically, people steal electricity by hooking up a wire (locally known as Kunda) to overhead electricity cables, siphoning off power without paying for it. Another way people steal power is to slow down their electricity meters. Most of the people who steal electricity can afford to pay for it but they choose not to.
Fatwa has been issued by religious scholars of Jamia Darul Uloom, Jamia Binoria, Jamia Hamadia. According to it,
‘The illicit use of any commodity is a sin and as in this case, the organization producing electricity represented many people, its use without permission and pay makes it an even bigger sin. Legal action against such people committing electricity theft is fair.’
Ulema also directed citizens to pay back an amount equal to the power they had stolen while The Company already has the right to fine those caught stealing electricity.
Karachi, known as the “city of lights” has a population of about 16 million and is Pakistan’s biggest city and commercial hub, has been facing chronic electricity problems. Power consumers frustrated by load-shedding and breakdowns often vent their anger by blocking roads, burning Tyre and throwing stones in street demonstrations.
It is definitely a cosmetic approach towards a problem. There should be a crack down against those who are involved in electricity theft. Everyone knows that stealing electricity is illegal and it is a crime but to obtain a fatwa shows that people are not serious about quitting their habit of using Kunda despite of many warnings from the company. On the other hand Ulema haven’t said anything about those who are suffering from over billing, marathon running meters and hours long load shedding. They should also condemn these acts of company and decide a punishment for it.