Time for Bescom to pull up its socks

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Electricity related accidents in public places are far too common in Bangalore and the culprit is obviously Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom) whose responsibility it is to not merely supply electricity but also ensure that the power supply conduits are safe.

Live wires on the road, open junction boxes and short circuit in electricity transformers leading to a blaze are some of the chief causes of the accidents and it is time Bescom pays attention in preventing accidents.

A whopping 107 fatal accidents in 2013-14, apart from seven deaths of Bescom staff – figures that are likely to ‘shock’ consumers, who Bescom caters to. Only recently, four motorists suffered burns, one of them fatally when an electricity transformer near the bus depot in Koramangala burst, spewing hot oil over them. Earlier, a school boy fell prey to an electricity line that was too close to his school compound wall while a woman succumbed to electric shock when the metal rod she was holding came in touch with the line passing close to her house.

Speaking about the measures the power utility is taking to curb the number of accidents, Bescom Managing Director Pankaj Kumar Pandey said to begin with, Bescom electricity lines that are running too close to government school buildings and other governmental organisations, including hospitals, would be shifted. “If there are transformers within the premises of such buildings, these will be shifted and Bescom will bear the cost.” Private school managements, however, have to bear the cost of shifting.

In addition, to counter the ‘departmental deaths’, onus has been put on linemen and supervising officers to ensure that the use of safety gear and equipment is not compromised on.

But, Bescom will be unable to tackle the core of the problem i.e., electricity lines that are dangerously close to buildings. “There are building bylaw violations which we will not be able to counter. At best we can write to Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike to take action. We have also begun work on aerial bunched cable on priority basis,” Mr. Pankaj Kumar Pandey said.

Y.G. Muralidhar, convener, Consumer Rights Education and Awareness Trust, also said this was a problem that could not be countered by the power utility alone. “A past analysis done of electrical accidents revealed that in most cases, it is negligence either by Bescom or by the consumers. In towns and cities, electricity supply lines are too close to buildings posing a problem. In addition, the problems of sagging lines and worn out electricity lines should also be looked into,” he said.

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