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A very unusual story. It does have an electrical connection.
Power thieves use stray dogs to get connected Soni Sangwan (New Delhi, August 24)
A dog being flung into a canal with electricity cable tied around its neck. Once in the water, the animal would be egged on to swim across taking the cable along to facilitate power theft.Photo: S Burmaula St Bernards are trained to rescue people lost in snow. Labradors can swim into the sea and drag back fish nets. Pointers help hunters spot their prey. But in one part of Outer Delhi, it is the humble stray dog which helps residents steal electricity.
But unlike their pedigreed cousins, who are invariably rewarded for their efforts, the friendly neighbourhood pie dogs in an unauthorised colony in Nangloi go unrewarded. In fact, he becomes a partner in crime under duress: non-compliance invites harsh punishment from their keepers.
The poor dogs act as couriers, ferrying electricity wires across a filthy canal. One end of the wire is strung around the dog's neck and he is forced to swim across. More often than not, the terrified dog has to be egged on by power thieves who pelt stones at him.
Once the wire reaches the other bank of the canal, it is strung to a "junction box" in the home of the recipient of the illegal power.
The rest is simple: the other end of the wire, that now straddles the canal, is hooked to Delhi Vidyut Board's regular overhead power lines and, hey presto, the tapping begins.
``Not long ago," says a resident of the unauthorised colony, "youngsters in the neighbourhood would swim across, bearing the wire. But after two of them drowned, we have had to use stray dogs in the neighbourhood." Dogs are amphibious.
``When someone needs a power connection, he comes to us," said a resident of the area. He is the proud owner of Sheroo, a stray who is the veteran of several missions across the canal. The service is provided for a one-time payment of Rs 1,500 and includes the cost of the wire.
Sometimes the "wired dog" is set sail on a crude raft. ``Two clay pots are mounted on logs of wood to act as bouys and and the dog is tied to the raft and sent across,'' Sheroo's owner said.
In case the resident does not want to hire a profession canine swimmer for the job, he first has to round up any stray dog he can find. This becomes a community project, with everyone joining in the hunt for a suitable stray dog.
Asked why they apparently have no qualms about stealing power, one resident was indignant: We have paid development charges and it is the duty of the DVB to give us the connections. We are being forced to take matters in our own hands because of the attitude of the government.
``In any case if anyone should be prosecuted, it is the people who are stealing power to run their air-conditioners and coolers by rigging their electricity meters. All we do is run one bulb and one fan. So what's the big deal?'' she asked.
-- Martin Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 24, 2000