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Bureaucrat Who Took on Power-Thieves Aids $50 Billion Market

  • Indian electricity retailers lose $10 billion a year in sales
  • Power-grid upgrades offer opportunities for equipment makers
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Ritu Maheshwari learned quickly how recovering part of the $10 billion a year of electricity stolen across India could be a career-limiting move for a young, female bureaucrat.

As a newly minted official at the Kanpur Electricity Supply Co. in 2011, Maheshwari installed new meters across almost a third of the company’s customer base. The devices recorded energy consumption digitally and exposed real-time leaks in the distribution system. But so deeply ran the interests protecting power-pilfering in Kanpur, an industrial city 500 kilometers (311 miles) southeast of New Delhi, that she was transferred after 11 months.