GUWAHATI, Sept 28 - The State government has made plans to convert power lines stretching 60,000 km into covered cable lines for durability, safety and prevention of transmission and distribution losses, even as it claimed that Assam will become self-sufficient in electricity production within the next 10 years once the national gas grid becomes operational.
This was stated by Power Minister Topon Kumar Gogoi during the Zero Hour in the Legislative Assembly today.
Gogoi admitted that the State has witnessed a large number of deaths due to electrocution in recent years and ensuring safety of people is of paramount importance. He said there have been 883 deaths in Assam due to electrocution between 2006 and 2018. �Such incidents should never happen. Merely handing compensation is not the end. We have, therefore, taken steps to mitigate the problem,� Gogoi said.
He said 136 cases related to electrocution went to the court and of them 65 were settled and compensation paid. Another 71 cases are still pending in the court. Altogether 43 compensations were given during 2017-18.
He said the Power Department has appointed only 28 new employees during 2017-18.
Gogoi said poor quality of transmission wires, which get snapped easily, have aggravated the problem of electricity-related incidents. �Therefore, we have taken steps to rectify the problem. We are focusing on safety. There is 60,000 km of power lines in the State and we will convert all of it to cable covered lines,� he said.
He said the Power Department has earmarked Rs 3284.04 crore for the project, which will come from the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Another Rs 633 core has been sanctioned for conversion to cable covered lines under the Integrated Power Development Scheme.
Gogoi added that Rs 25 crore has been earmarked for replacing all the existing wooden and bamboo poles with concrete ones.
A 11-km-long animal corridor stretch at Kaziranga has been put under covered conductors on an experimental basis.
�I can say that within 10 years we will stand on our own feet in the matter of power production once the national gas grid becomes fully operational. The Gas Authority of India Ltd will provide us with the gas,� said the minister.
He added that the government is also focusing on solar and hydel projects and both are in the pipeline.
Earlier, AGP MLA Prafulla Kumar Mahanta raised the issue during Zero Hour. He cited a recent report in The Assam Tribune (September 27 issues) regarding deaths by electrocution in the State.
Mahanta said that the materials and equipment used by APDCL are of poor quality, which led to many untoward incidents and resulted in safety hazard.