The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tamper tag on tech trouble
- Reliance blames lack of road upkeep for ‘killer’ cables

On Tuesday, the morning after 25-year-old Amit Dalmia was pierced to death by a metal strip covering the cable laid by Reliance Infocomm on Camac Street, Metro found at least one more metal protective covering jutting out on the road. On Wednesday, at least four more were spotted on roads stretching from Burdwan Road to Ganesh Chandra Avenue.

Reliance officials had earlier claimed that the killer metal strip that took Dalmia’s life was an isolated one and had, in all probability, been the result of “tampering by miscreants”.

However, when asked about the many more that have surfaced, the company’s officials said “indiscriminate digging of the roads by various agencies” and “no proper maintenance by the civic authorities” had led to the metal strips being exposed.

“I don’t know why people are blaming us for work we completed way back in October last year,” said a Reliance Infocomm spokesman in Mumbai, Amit Khanna. “We cannot be held responsible for other people or agencies who carry out digging work on Calcutta’s streets. The onus is on the civic authorities to restore and repair them, and also ensure that no one tampers with the metal strips.”

Khanna added that he would be writing to the Calcutta Municipal Corporation to ensure that no one tampers with the cables laid by the company. “They have to take the responsibility,” he said. “On our part, I can state that the technology that we have used in laying the cables is of international standard. It is eco-friendly, fast and we have received no complaints so far.”

So, what exactly is the problem and why are the metal strips coming undone' Is the technology being used by Reliance Infocomm — the directly buried cable method, which involves cutting a two inch wide and six to eight inch deep groove in the ground, laying the fibre optic cable and covering it with successive layers of rubber, foam and metal — unsuitable for a city like Calcutta, where roads are badly maintained and frequently dug up'

Technical experts say that while laying such cables, these matters are factored in and should not matter, unless the agency employed to lay the cable does an “extremely shoddy” job. Reliance officials, however, rule this out. “The contractors who laid the cables for us have done a good job and we have no complaints against them,” Khanna said.

Safety has been sacrificed for speed, is what industry experts claim. Loose joints, where the metal strips were merged together, and a disregard for the fact that convention dictates a depth of at least 3.3 feet. While Dalmia’s family mourns his untimely and unnecessary death, the industry is left wondering what the hype about the new technology is.

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