In the wake of electrocution related deaths near high tension towers, city authorities have decided to conduct a joint survey to identify the houses situated below these towers and come up with measures to ensure the safety of citizens. According to the Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (BESCOM), there have been 39 cases of electrocution related deaths from 2017 to May 2019.
Recently on May 19, TOI reported that a 14-year-old boy died after coming in contact with a high-tension wire near his house. Nikhil A. was playing cricket with his friends, when the ball fell on the terrace of a neighborâ€™s house. When he tried to throw the ball back to his friends, he came into contact with the overhead wire and suffered a shock and serious burns. There have been similar accidents in Bengaluru due to contact with high tension wires.
The survey by the BBMP, Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Limited (KPTCL) and BESCOM is the first step to control such cases.
Nagarajaiah BN, the general manager of quality, standards and safety at BESCOM, said that the BESCOM and KPTCL have completed their part of the survey. BBMP is yet to complete their part.
He said, â€śAs per Safety Guidelines Act of 2010, no buildings should be constructed underneath the electricity lines. For the existing buildings, safe clearance is 3.7 meters and plus 0.3 meters for every 33KV line. For 66KV line the safe clearance is 4.3 meters. If they donâ€™t have that clearance, they have to demolish. Thereâ€™s no other way.â€ť But when asked if any buildings have been demolished, he said no and that, â€śNo action has been taken. BBMP and the civil bodies have to take action.â€ť
Why are houses still being built near high-tension towers?
HM Shivaprakash, the general manager of customer relations at BESCOM said, â€śYou take BESCOM or KPTCL, we never go to string (High tension wires) above the existing houses. They (Citizens) will construct the houses below the lines.â€ť He also notes that the local authorities provide NOCs (No Objection Certificates) for the construction of these houses, perhaps due to the possibility of local or political pressure. Once the NOC is issued, citizens build multiple floors that are in close proximity to the wires.
The survey is being conducted to figure out how many existing houses are situated below or above Extra Super Tension (Est) lines of 66KV and above. The Est lines are strung between towers and are at an elevated height.
According to HM Shivaprakash, some of the Est lines were laid 50 years ago and buildings were constructed without the proper clearance. He mentions that most of the accidents occur due to lack of clearance. For example, with 66KV lines, the vertical clearance should be 4 meters. If not, there is a high chance of getting electrocuted.
Currently the joint survey has identified 6327 locations that have not met the required criteria. BESCOM has already issued notices to these locations. According to BESCOM, 7306 notices have been issued and the BBMP will decide the next course of action. A BBMP source said, â€śAfter taking the survey we will classify whether they are public consigned buildings or educational institutions or other quarters of the officials, all those have to be considered to take a decision.â€ť
Additionally, BESCOM identifies constructions sites which violate the proximity requirements and disconnects their temporary power supply.
According to the BBMP the survey will be completed in two months. Based on the findings from the survey further action with respect to the houses will be taken.
To spread awareness about safety amongst citizens, BESCOM has put out advertisements in newspapers instructing citizens to stay away from live wires and high-tension towers. They have also sent out pamphlets containing information on safety with electricity bills.
KPTCL was unavailable for comment