| Electric pole and service wires at Ratha Road in Bhubaneswar. Picture by Ashwinee Pati |
Bhubaneswar, April 8: Electric cables in the Old Town area of the city would be laid underground to avoid power theft and mishaps. The Central Electricity Supply Utility (Cesu) has started the estimation process.
Though the major focus was on the Ratha Road where the chariot of Lord Lingaraj is pulled during the Rukuna rath yatra, the Cesu has started the estimation work in most areas of Old Town with emphasis on Lingaraj temple and its surroundings.
“The cables would run 10 feet under the road. A private company has been entrusted with the estimation work and the process has recently started. Once they finish the process, we will submit the report to the government,” said Basudev Mahakud, assistant general manger of Cesu.
Ekamra Bhubaneswar MLA Ashok Chandra Panda said he had written to the chief minister and the energy minister six months ago, for allocating some funds for the underground laying of the electric cables on Ratha Road.
The underground cable would be drawn like it was done under Puri Grand Trunk Road for safe movement of the chariots during the annual car festival.
“During the car festival of Lord Lingaraj, these overhead electric cables pose threat to the chariot and the devotees. As far as safety and security of the devotees was concerned, I had to write to the government,” said Panda, adding that the Cabinet recently gave its nod to the project.
A fund of Rs 1 crore has been allocated from the chief minister’s fund. The Cesu has been told to carry out an estimation work and give the estimation report to the energy department.
“The rest of the amount would be borne by the departments concerned as the energy minister has assured me,” said Panda.
Accordingly, the Cesu has outsourced the estimation work to a private company, which is carrying it out, on the periphery of the 11th century shrine, around Bindusagar, along the Ratha Road and other parts of Old Town.
Several factors have to be looked into during laying of underground cables. These include the cost of new wires and cables along with removal of the existing wires. Besides, the cost of laying them underground and repairing the dug roads also have to be taken care of and these things would take time.
“We have to take care of all these factors along with the safety and free movement of the tourists and the local residents during the work period. We hope the estimation work is finished soon so that the actual work can be started,” said a Cesu official.
In this area, power thefts have been reported frequently. A special energy police source said in the last two years, 282 theft cases had been reported in the city, of which most of the cases were from Old Town.
Besides, the power cables pass so close to the residential buildings, that they pose threat to life and property. On December 26 last year, a 55-year-old man was electrocuted while he was working on his three-storey building.