Drones fight illegal electricity use

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published

An electricity utility company operating in southeastern Turkey has started using drones to monitor power lines against the illegal use of electricity prevalent in the region.

Dicle Electricity Distribution Company introduced drones in rural areas where power lines are exploited for illegal use in irrigation of vast agricultural lands. On their first day, the drones detected five "illegal" power transformers set up by the locals of a village in Diyarbakır province yesterday. The use of drones also helps workers remotely identify problems in electricity transmission equipment. The company's Diyarbakır Director Uğur Yaka said that the drones also gathered evidence of illegal electricity use in the forms of images that can be used in any lawsuit against illegal users.

Illegal electricity use is widespread in Turkey's southeast where subscribers, usually farmers, go out of their way to avoid paying bills, some establishing their own power transformers.

The utility company's efforts to collect outstanding debts and shut down illegal electricity supplies often lead to clashes between utility workers and the locals.

The problem dates back to the 1980s when the electricity infrastructure was set up in most settlements, especially in the rural areas. Residents legally subscribed for power connections, then distributed by a state-run company. However, many of them were not served bills for years as PKK violence and Turkish military campaign to end terrorism saw the region ruled under a state of emergency. Eventually, years' worth of outstanding bills and poverty meant people, subscribers and nonsubscribers alike, continued using electricity without paying.

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