The Centre will spend ₹25,300 crore ($4.1 billion) to tackle rampant theft of electricity by rolling out metering in cities and upgrading old distribution networks, the Power Ministry said.

Cutting electricity theft and reducing transmission losses are part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts to bring uninterrupted power to the whole country, a key policy plank since his election in May.

Cheap or free power is viewed as a right rather than a privilege by many, and poor policing and antiquated transmission lines result in as much as 40 per cent of electricity going unpaid for in some States.

Gujarat ‘model’
As Chief Minister of Gujarat, Modi was credited with tackling power shortages by clamping down on theft, and by repairing the finances of local distribution companies hit hard by unpaid bills. Under the scheme, the Government will roll out meters on distribution transformers, feeders and consumers in urban areas, the Power Ministry said in a statement, following Cabinet approval of the project.

T&D networks
The Government will also strengthen sub-transmission and distribution networks. These projects will help cut technical and commercial losses and improve collection efficiency, the Ministry said.

They will cost ₹32,600 crore, of which, ₹25,300 crore will come from the Government.