Monday, June 09, 2008

Wires still hang over city

Wires still hang over city
Monday June 9 2008 09:12 IST

Mohammed Sharrif and
Jayadevan P K

BANGALORE: In 1905, Bangalore became the first Indian city to be electrified.

A century later, safety hazards and deaths due to electrocution occur with greater frequency in the city than in other metros like Mumbai and Delhi.

The Bangalore Electricity Supply Company, BESCOM), the power company that boasts of following the best practices in the construction and maintenance of its distribution network, supplies electricity through poorly maintained overhead lines in the highly populated metro.

BESCOM, however, is not solely responsible; builders, who ignore all building norms, also contribute to the poor quality of the network.

Underground cabling, which is being followed in other metros, is safer. However, Thushar Girinath, Managing Director of BESCOM, says that the cost of laying underground cables is 5- 15 times higher than the overhead distribution system.

Underground cables are also environmentally invasive. He said, "We used to have one death on an average every month, but the last 6 months have been safer.

We will start ensuring safer practices with the line men.We are investing Rs 1 crore for safety material; we have formed a safety organisation, which will work independent of the operations team."

BESCOM regulations require that distribution in newer layouts be via underground cables or insulated overhead cables. Old lines will remain the same.

Some time back, the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission, had ordered BESCOM to compensate the Environment Support Group: a complaint was made that electronic equipment was damaged as BESCOM had failed to provide power within the regulated voltage stream, thus damaging equipment.

BESCOM has laid underground cables in highly populated areas such as M G Road and Commercial Street.

However, many other areas like Cunningham Road, Queen’s Road, Cubbon Road and other centrally-located parts of the city have sagging lines which pass dangerously close to balconies.

There are also frequent short circuits and exposed conductors. Despite this, it appears that it will still be a while before the city’s entire network goes underground.

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