Guwahati, Oct. 23: Waking up to the danger posed by high voltage electric transformers in the city, the Assam Power Distribution Company Limited (APDCL) has started fencing 261 transformers and taken other safety measures to prevent electrical accidents and ensure public safety.
APDCL spokesperson Chandra Mudoi recently said the transformers in the city’s busy and flash flood-prone areas have been identified keeping in mind their vulnerability while safety measures for rests would be carried out phase-wise. There are 4,469 distribution transformers in two electrical circles — Guwahati Electrical Circle-I and Guwahati Electrical Circle-II. “The fencing started on September 18 and we hope to complete the first phase (261 transformers) within this month,” Mudoi said.
Sources said the APDCL had started the work soon after a news item in The Telegraph on September 17 highlighted how most of the high voltage transformers were in “extremely dangerous” condition from the safety point of view. A sample survey conducted by the office of the chief electrical inspector revealed that safety aspect was either neglected or unattended by the APDCL despite repeated warnings. The survey was conducted following the death of Basanti Devi, a woman who stepped on a pipe that carried a leaked wire across a footpath in the city’s Anil Nagar in May. Sources said the company had initiated the safety measures after Dispur strictly asked it to immediately start the work following the news report.
Mudoi said apart from fencing, the height of some of the transformers was being increased to prevent accidents. “We are using concrete materials and galvanised iron wires this time to prevent theft. We are also renewing the earthing system, where necessary, and are using armoured cables for safety. Protective fencing will help us keep people away from the transformers and thereby prevent accidents,” he said.
The APDCL, however, is facing space problem as people are opposing to the fencing in some areas. “We are doing the protective fencing for the safety of people as transformers are situated close to footpaths, culverts and markets but in some areas people are unwilling to vacate the space for fencing. We had to take police help in Birubari for the work as a person was opposing it. We are facing similar problems in Uzan Bazar, Panbazar and some other places,” another senior APDCL official said.
Thought the absence of gang switch in the transformers was one of the important observations of the survey, the APDCL official said safety could be maintained without the gang switch too. “Gang switch is for disconnecting power supply during repair. But we have a fuse on top of each transformer, using which we can disconnect power supply while carrying out any repair. Besides, installation of a gang switch will cost us around Rs 30,000 and we have to keep the cost factor in mind too,” the official said.