GUWAHATI, July 8 - How many more electrocution deaths do we need to wake up the State Power Department from its prolonged slumber? Or, whether the department itself is in dire need of �shock therapy� to arouse its conscience? At least, that is what statistics seem to suggest.
Ironically, a State which boasts an improved infrastructure and financial makeover over the years, is virtually incapacitated and mute over more than 1,100 deaths by electrocution in the last 10 years or so, besides leaving many others exposed to similar eventualities.
Worse, deaths due to lackadaisical management of power lines continue to put citizens in a state of shock year after year, Guwahati being no exception.
However, the Power Department claims that not all deaths are due to negligence on the part of the Power Department and many such deaths could be attributed to personal negligence, especially at the household-level.
Records divulged that since 2006, more than 1,100 people have died due to electrocution across the length and breadth of the State, mostly after coming into contact with live wire emerging from unfenced high-voltage transformers, making it more than 100 deaths a year on an average.
While over 1,000 deaths by electrocution were reported between 2006 and 2013, the figure continues to pile up with nearly 150 deaths reported since 2014.
Forget about other interior locations, even Guwahati, which is now being projected as a �smart city� is not a safe zone either.
�The recent string of incidents of deaths by electrocution of a daily wage earner and a boy, followed by another death on the RG Baruah Road, once again exposed the hollow claims, or, for that matter, the utter inefficiency of the authorities,� said a resident of the RG Baruah Road area.
Puru Gupta, Chairman of the Assam Power Distribution Company Limited (APDCL), when contacted said the department realises the gravity of the problem, and hence, a multi-pronged strategy has been devised to address it and a structured maintenance guideline is being prepared with the help of experts.
�Regular maintenance of electrical lines, especially before the onset of monsoon, is a must. The wires and transformers which are lying low also need to be raised,� Gupta pointed out, adding, �As this is a growing sector with the number of consumers fast increasing, the problems cannot be solved overnight, although immediate rectification measures are being introduced.�
�We are trying to address the resource constraint in terms of manpower at various levels as well. Both short-term and long-term measures are to be undertaken. But, there are certain measures which we would take immediately, which include identification of vulnerable areas and taking appropriate measure to fix the problem,� Gupta said.