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HC push for cable rules

Guwahati, Jan. 29: Gauhati High Court today asked the Assam Power Distribution Company Limited (APDCL) to formulate guidelines within a month for the use of electric poles by cable operators in the city.

The Greater Guwahati Cable TV Operators Association had moved the court on January 23 and filed a writ petition after the power distribution company asked them to pay Rs 25 per month for each electric pole they use to string up cables.

The operators had pleaded before the court that monthly fees of Rs 5 should be charged from them for the use of the poles.

“Lawyer P.K. Goswami appeared in court on our behalf and during the hearing today, the judge fixed an interim charge of Rs 10 for the use of each pole. The court also fixed February 28 as the next date of hearing. It also asked the APDCL to formulate guidelines and modalities for the use of electric poles by cable operators and submit details like the number of poles on or before the next hearing,” general secretary of the association, Iquebal Ahmed, said.

The court also asked both parties to negotiate the matter on or before February 28. “The judge asked us to submit details like the number of operators,” he said.

The power distribution company had issued a public notice on September 20 last year, asking the operators to remove “unauthorized” cables from electrical poles on or before October 7.

The company had said the decision was taken considering the safety of their workers and the public at large. The APDCL, however, said they were ready to allow the use of the poles for a monthly fee of Rs 25 per pole.

The association moved court after meetings with the APDCL failed to convince the company officials to reduce the rate.

Sources said the company had issued the notice following a news report published in the September 19 edition of The Telegraph, highlighting the rising incidence of power-related accidents across Assam, mostly because of the power company’s neglect of safety issues.

Altogether 1,077 electrical accidents have been reported in the state since 2006.

The chief electrical inspector, in a letter to the chief general managers of Upper Assam, central Assam and lower Assam zones of the APDCL on February 21, 2011, had raised the issue of the unsafe use of electrical poles by cable operators.

The power department, in a recent letter, had said, “A number of cable operators draw their wires from the electric poles in a very unsafe and dangerous manner. In some places, wires are drawn using high voltage line posts, which is extremely dangerous.”