Thirteen-year-old Farzan Ansari could have been electrocuted after he touched a pump that was running on pilfered electricity or one of the wires connected to it, engineers of Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) said on Sunday.
The Class VIII student had stepped out of his home in a narrow lane off Raja Raj Narayan Street in north Kolkata’s Narkeldanga and was going to the community toilet when he got electrocuted on Saturday evening, residents said.
The residents who were involved in attempts to rescue the boy told The Telegraph on Sunday that Farzan had slumped after touching an electric pole.
A youth who was in the rescue team said there was no pump there when Farzan was electrocuted. KMC engineers said a tap of the civic body is located next to the electric pole, which the residents said the boy had touched.
They found three sockets on the wall above the tap, which suggested that it was a routine affair to install a pump and illegally suck water from the tap. Such pumps, the engineers said, run on pilfered electricity.
An engineer said some residents had told them on Saturday that a pump was running when the boy got electrocuted.
“It seems the boy had touched a wire used to steal electricity or had touched the pump that might have turned live. That led to his electrocution,” said an engineer.
Sandip Ranjan Bakshi, mayoral council member-in-charge of the KMC’s electricity department, echoed the view.
“The boy might have been electrocuted after somehow coming in contact with wires used to steal electricity. It could also be that the stagnant water in a small portion of the lane had become live and the boy stepped on the water and got electrocuted,” he said.
The pole did not have any lamp on it. Residents said the last time a lamp was fitted to the pole was nearly two decades back.
Along the lane, however, there are multiple poles that have lights installed on them.
Bakshi admitted that the pole belongs to the KMC and the civic body is responsible for its maintenance.
Mohammad Wasi, a resident who tried to rescue Farzan, said the boy slumped as soon as he touched the pole. “The lane was waterlogged. The boy tripped and held on to the pole. He slumped immediately,” he said.
Residents admitted power theft was a problem in the area but blamed the civic body, CESC and police for not doing anything to stop it.
“Is it not the responsibility of the KMC, police and CESC to stop power theft. Even if we admit for argument’s sake that the boy got electrocuted because of power theft, who is to be blamed for that?” asked a resident.
The KMC engineer said they conducted raids in several places across the city last year to stop power theft.
“We had disconnected many lines that were used to steal electricity, but a section of residents resumed theft soon after our teams left,” the engineer said. He was not speaking in particular about the lane in Narkeldanga where the boy was electrocuted.
An officer of Narkeldanaga police station said they “had not received any complaint of power theft from CESC” and so could not take any action.
Avijit Ghosh, executive director (distribution), CESC, said the “distribution box of CESC in the area was under lock and key”, suggesting no power theft was happening from CESC’s supply lines.
He also said all power distribution points in the area were underground and there was no scope of electrocution from CESC’s distribution network.