GUWAHATI, Sept 26 - Over 500 human lives were lost in electricity related accidents in the State between 2006 and 2017. Unofficially, however, the toll is over 1,000. And even as the recent incident at Juria where six persons were electrocuted in a pond and two more deaths in separate incidents elsewhere later showed the APDCL in poor light, the discom seems to have not learnt from its past mistakes.
This reporter assessed (71) inquiry reports of electrical inspectors who probed the electrocution deaths between April 1, 2006 and October, 2017. Shockingly, in only 13 of the cases, the investigators found the cause to be sole negligence on the part of the victim. In the remaining incidents, the blame was on the APDCL which failed to comply with the safety standards.
More than half of the inquiry reports had recommended that �the Central Electricity Authority measures on safety should be strictly complied with by the APDCL and time to time thorough checking of the electric lines be done. Deviation in safety parameters at any point of time should be appropriately dealt with for correction and sustenance and to ensure public safety�.
For example, after 20-year-old Saiful Islam was electrocuted by a snapped 230kv conductor on June 25, 2012, at Falimari in Dhubri, the probe report had noted that the APDCL �failed to maintain the overhead line to ensure safety of human beings, animals and property as envisaged in the safety regulations and code of practices of the Bureau of Indian Standards for construction, installation and maintenance of overhead distribution line. The probe report also indicted the APDCL for not complying with safety provisions of CEA in and around Dhubri town.
Similarly, electrical inspectors in their probe report had concluded that the overhead 11kv line was not safe after 45-year-old Maziran Bewa was electrocuted on July 18, 2011 at Chapar in Dhubri.
Another investigation report on an electrocution death at Baghpani in Karbi Anglong had stated that the �overhead 11kv bare line did not have any earth guarding under the line for rendering the line electrically harmless in case it breaks. Moreover, the protection system associated with this overhead line circuit was not functioning properly.�
According to the Central Electricity Authority (Measures relating to safety and electric supply), all electric supply lines shall be of sufficient rating for power, insulation and estimated fault current and of sufficient mechanical strength for the duty cycle which they may be required to perform under environmental condition of installation, and shall be constructed, installed, protected, worked and maintained in such a manner as to ensure safety of human beings, animals, and property�.
Also, the regulation also states that �for every overhead line which is not being suspended from a dead bearer wire, not being covered with insulating material and not being a trolley wire, is erected in any public place shall be protected with earth guarding for rendering the line electrically harmless in case it breaks�.
The Bureau of Indian Standards �Code of Practice for earthing� further states that �whether or not a system is grounded, protection of personnel and property from hazards require thorough grounding of equipment and structures. Proper grounding results in less likelihood of accidents to personnel.�
These regulations were repeated underlined by the inquiry panels, but incidents continued to recur � and that too for the same causes with the discom continuing to undermine the safety of people.
Preliminary reports about the Juria incident has also brought the APDCL under scanner, with lack of maintenance of switchgears and earthing system appearing to be the reason for the deaths.