National

NEA transfers 2,480 officials in biggest staff reshuffle ever

  • Move follows arrest of 16 people involved in electricity meter tampering
- BIBEK SUBEDI, Kathmandu

Jan 26, 2017-

The Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) this week resorted to biggest employee reshuffle in its history, transferring around 2,480 staff on suspicion of their involvement in electricity meter tampering, which was inflicting losses worth billions of rupees every year on the state-owned power utility. 

All the employees who were transferred were based at NEA’s Distribution and Consumer Services (DCS) Department, which is responsible for overall management of distribution networks and services, according to NEA Deputy Managing Director Gopal Babu Bhattarai.

While majority of the staff who have been relocated are meter readers and supervisors, some senior level employees have also been transferred, NEA said. These staff members were moved to different distribution centres within the DCS Department.

The transfers were made after Nepal Police in separate incidents arrested a dozen NEA staff this week for their alleged involvement in electricity meter tampering, among other misconducts. 

“All of those who were transferred may not have been culprits, but they were working in the same distribution centres for years,” said Bhattarai. “We hope the transfers will break the nexus between NEA staff and consumers involved in electricity theft.” A highly placed source at the NEA said the recent move of transferring staff was just the tip of the iceberg. “More will follow in the coming days.”

Apart from transfers, the authority is also mulling over launching massive investigation and book staff involved in corruption. “The job is not done yet. We will expose each individual involved in electricity theft,” said the source.  

The nexus between NEA staff and customers first surfaced on Sunday after the Metropolitan Police Crime Division (MPCD), Teku, arrested 16 people, including an NEA supervisor, on charges of electricity theft from different locations in the Capital.  

The culprits were arrested for their alleged involvement in tampering with electricity meters to show less consumption of electricity in return for kickbacks. Of the arrested, 11 were NEA staffers. 

According to police, NEA officials in question would tamper with the electricity meters and receive Rs 10,000 to Rs 300,000 in return from owners of garment factories, hotels and other enterprises. 

These officials also punched less units than the actual readings, leading to a sharp decline in the bill amount of “beneficiaries” who had to foot the bill, investigating officials said.

They were also found to be using various devices to tamper with the electricity meters, as they used to carry all the equipment required to break the seals and fix them again.

Published: 26-01-2017 08:29

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