Guwahati, Sept. 16: Guwahati is sitting on an electrical death trap that’s waiting to devour its citizens, going by the state power department’s own survey.
The two recent deaths from electrocution — those of Basanti Devi, 39, at Anil Nagar in May and Manab Barman, 31, at Ganeshguri on Thursday evening — by that measure, could be only a minuscule manifestation of the problem that Guwahati faces.
The admission comes from the proverbial horse’s mouth: a survey conducted by the chief electrical inspector that selected 100 high-voltage (11kV and more) transformers for a sample study, says that “most of them are in an extremely dangerous” condition from the safety point of view.
The survey, a copy of which is available with The Telegraph, was conducted to ascertain public safety.
According to sources in Dispur, results of the survey, which was ordered after Basanti Devi’s death, were recently submitted to the government. According to the report, mandatory safety measures have been ignored by the Assam Power Distribution Company Limited (APDCL) and most of the distribution transformers are not maintained as per norms of the Central Electricity Authority (Measures Relating to Safety and Electric Supply) Regulation Act, 2010.
A common problem observed during the survey was the absence of safety fencing at sub-stations to prevent accidents. Rather than gang switches, the survey says, “unsafe and locally arranged fuse systems made of aluminium conductor strands” were used as fuses at transformers and substations. Even these were found to be “unsafe and bare” in most cases.
In the distribution substation near the Prathamik Vidyalaya at Botahghuli, the report observes, “no gang-switch is provided with the high-voltage side”. The “double-pole structure of 11kV poles appeared to be in an inclined condition near the school,” the report says.
“The present condition of most of the distribution substations are (sic) found to be in an extreme (sic) dangerous state. The present statuses (sic) were brought to the notice of ASEB/APDCL as well as the government from time to time, besides a specific order of Gauhati High Court issued in July 2000. While massive reforms and revamping of power distribution system were carried out throughout the state, our observations about safety aspect were either ignored or not attended to at all,” the report states.
The department’s recommendations include use of only energy efficient transformers with star ratings provided by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency in distribution substations, armoured cables in transformers at public places, checking of earthing system of transformers and substations and an immediate stop to “the most unhealthy and unsafe practice of keeping accessible live parts exposed in public places”.
“Immediate attention of the APDCL is required to rectify the defects in almost all of its distribution substations and networks without further delay to ensure public safety,” the report mentions.