|File picture of firefighters trying to extinguish a fire that broke out in a transformer in the Hatigaon area of Guwahati
Guwahati, Sept. 19: The mammoth finally moves. Following reports in The Telegraph about the disastrous situation that Assam’s electrical installations had created for the people, the state government’s power department has decided to take steps to make its supply units safe.
In an order issued yesterday, the department has appointed the chief electrical inspector according to the provisions of the Electricity Act 2003, to inquire and report, “as to the cause of any accident affecting the safety of the public”, which may have been a result of issues related to the “generation, transmission, distribution, supply or use of electricity”.
Additionally, the chief electrical inspector will also “inquire and look into” the “manner in, and extent to, which the provisions of the act or rules and regulations made there under or of any license, so far as those provisions affect the safety of any person, have been complied with”.
The order, that comes into force “with immediate effect”, says the notification has empowered “every electrical inspector holding an inquiry under the Act with all the powers of a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908”.
In a second order, the government has directed the Assam Power Distribution Company Limited (APDCL) that it abides by the Central Electricity Authority safety regulations in their “totality”.
The order states that the supplier/licensee (APDCL, Assam Electricity Grid Corporation Ltd, Assam Power Generation Corporation Ltd, “as the case may be”), shall “mandatorily inspect installations beyond the energy meters in all open public spaces like thoroughfares, roads, cross junctions, streets, service connection in open community places” and “take appropriate measures to ensure public safety at all times”.
The Telegraph had carried a report on September 16 on how, according to its own departmental survey, most electrical transformers and sub-stations in Guwahati were in an “extremely dangerous” situation, jeopardising public safety.
A second report carried today pointed out that at least 1,077 people had been involved in electrical accidents in Assam since 2006 and most of these cases would have resulted in fatalities. Most of these cases were a result of the power companies not adhering to mandatory safety regulations.
Most importantly, “the onus of ensuring public safety while supplying electricity to consumers shall be on the supplier/licensee at all times,” the order says. According to sources in Dispur, this is a significant firming up of policy as the issue was, prior to today, a grey area where all sides were shirking the issue of public safety.