Guwahati, Sept. 22: Cable television operators here have opposed the decision of the Assam Power Distribution Company Limited (APDCL) to charge them Rs 25 per month for each electric pole they use to string up cables, calling the amount “exorbitant”.
Members of the Greater Guwahati Cable TV Operators Association met here this evening and decided to move the APDCL chairman soon with a plea to either introduce an annual licensing system or a charge of Re 1 per month for each pole.
The meeting was called after APDCL issued a public notice on Saturday, asking the operators to remove unauthorised cables from electrical poles on or before October 7. The company said the decision was taken considering the safety of their workers and the public at large.
The APDCL notice said, “Considering the safety of workers as well as the public, APDCL has decided to remove unauthorised cables from electrical poles in greater Guwahati.”
However, if cable owners want to use the poles, they can do so in accordance with the approved drawings available with all sub-divisional engineers and assistant general managers under Guwahati electrical division (circles I and II), it added.
The notice also said that the “APDCL has fixed a charge of Rs 25 per pole per month for the cable layer and Rs 50 per month for each hoarding”.
The association’s general secretary, Iquebal Ahmed, told this correspondent, “A monthly charge of Rs 25 per pole is too high. We cannot pay such a high fee. We will submit a memorandum to the APDCL chairman to reconsider the decision” .
He said they were not against paying a nominal fee as it would help them to use the electric poles without facing any action.
“As we are not paying anything to the electricity department at present, they often remove our cables in the name of safety. But Rs 25 per pole per month is too much; it would hit us hard. We want a discussion on the issue and a decision that ensures public safety and leaves our business unharmed,” Ahmed said.
Sources said APDCL issued the notice following an article published in the September 19 edition of The Telegraph, highlighting the rising incidence of electrical accidents across Assam, mostly because of the power company’s neglect of safety issues.
Altogether 1,077 electrical accidents have been reported since 2006.
The unsafe use of electrical poles by cable TV operators in the city was raised by the chief electrical inspector in a letter written to the chief general managers of Upper Assam, central Assam and lower Assam zones of APDCL on February 21, 2011.
The letter, which The Telegraph accessed from the power department, said, “A number of cable TV operators have drawn their cable TV wires using the electricity posts in a very unsafe and dangerous manner. In some places, wires are drawn using HV (high voltage) line posts which is extremely dangerous.
“Several communications in this regard have already been made but no significant improvement was noticed. In the interest of public safety, I would like to request you to kindly take immediate steps,” the letter added.
The cable TV operators have, however, welcomed the decision to act against those using the poles without permission.