Within nine months of the financial year 2022–23, the total number of electrical accidents that occurred under the jurisdiction of Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom) has exceeded the annual numbers of the previous three FYs. Out of 245 accidents, which occurred until December, 119 were fatal, non-departmental accidents. During 2021–22, a total of 240 accidents with 101 fatal accidents (departmental and non-departmental) were recorded.
It is noteworthy in the electrical accident statistics for the last 10 years that only during 2019–20 and 2020–21 — the pandemic-hit years — that the accident numbers were below 200. The two recent incidents that resulted in the death of an 11-year-old boy after coming in contact with a Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Limited (KPTCL) wire and the death of a 26-year-old lineman of Bescom, have brought the focus back on electrical safety.
The number of departmental fatal accidents has decreased this year with two incidents when compared to seven, four and nine deaths in the previous three years respectively. Speaking about non-departmental accidents, Bescom officials said there was a clear lack of awareness and a sense of negligence among the public when it comes to electrical safety.
“We have often seen issues like buildings being constructed very close to the electric lines (closer than clearance issued), coming in contact with electric lines while transporting construction materials to such places, hanging clothes to dry on electric wires and more,” said Nagarjuna D, Director, Technical, Bescom.
“In rural areas, accidents take place when aluminium rods which are used to get coconuts and areca nuts down from trees come in contact with wires or when they repair motors by themselves without any safety gear. Such actions show that there is a clear lack of awareness among the public to follow rules regarding electrical safety,” he further explained.
Sources in Bescom had said that the fatal accident of Gautham, the lineman, could have been avoided had he worn the safety equipment which was provided to him. Not donning the safety gear is a problem among linesmen, according to a Bescom engineer. An official, however, said that to reduce accidents, employees are being administered safety oaths and periodically instructed by senior officials of each subdivision, to wear safety equipment while working.
Overall, to create awareness, Bescom officials said that they have been giving wide publicity about electrical safety on print media, social media, in schools and at railway and bus stations. “We have been shifting transformers and electric lines which are near schools and hostels. To avoid accidents that happen due to trees, we have taken up Arial Bunching of Cables and Underground cabling work,” Mr. Nagarjuna said.
However, citizens and activists disagreed. “It is true that there is public negligence, but they cannot be blamed entirely. There are technical problems like old transformers, saggy wires, and sudden falling of wires (especially in rural areas), of which, Bescom should also take care. It is necessary to investigate each case and go to the root of the problems and take corrective measures accordingly,” said Y.G. Muralidharan, consumers rights expert.
Animal fatalities highest in 10 years
In the ongoing year, a total of 76 animal fatalities have occurred, statistics show. When compared with the data from the last 10 years, this is the highest number of animal deaths in electrical accidents. “When it rains, people have the habit of tying their animals to our poles or under our wires which should absolutely not been done to avoid accidents,” Mr. Nagarjuna said. He said there was no specific reason why animal fatalities had increased.