Lethal negligence

Some might call them ‘accidental’, but deaths by electrocution are definitely more than ‘unfortunate’ accidents. They are the outcome of sheer apathy of civic authorities

Like any other evening, the 13-year-old boy was playing football with his friends in the community park when he sat near a high-mast light in the middle of the playground. The moment he stepped on the platform, on the base of the light, he received an electric shock and lost consciousness. He was rushed to hospitals, one after the other. But despite several attempts, he could not be saved.

This is how Hamza Qadri, a resident of Noida’s Swarnim Vihar, lost his life on August 10. His parents requested the police that they do not want any post-mortem or FIR as they wanted to mourn the loss of their son, in peace. With the onset of monsoon, several cases of deaths by electrocution have come up. But time and again, such incidents remind us how innocent lives like Hamza could be in danger due to sheer negligence by some.

“The high-mast light has been in the playground for10 years, but no such accident ever happened before. The kid met with an ill-fate. It was an unfortunate accident,” says Yogesh Tyagi, president of HIG Apartments, Swarnim Vihar. Tyagi has now put forth a plan of building a barricade around that pole to avoid any such accidents in future.

But the locals are of the opinion that negligence claimed the life of an innocent and it could have been avoided. “Open wires are lying in various places at Swarnim Vihar. That park or playground (where the accident took place) is not the only place. The reporters wanted to cover that incident and thus, focused only on that area,” says a local. He further added that there are many open junction boxes and old wires hovering overhead at some places, claiming that even after several complaints no steps have been taken so far.

“Actually, some facts are clearly concealed. For the last six months, transformer leakage had been taking place because of which current had also been flowing in many houses. A complaint in this regard was made to the powerhouse officials. Also, as soon as the street lights were turned on, neutral would turn into phase,” claims another local, adding, “Apparently, at 4 pm on the day of this accident, workers had come and repaired this \. Maybe, they failed to put tape on the joints, so when the lights were switched on at 7 pm, the poles became live, resulting in the tragic death.”

He also informed that presently there is no evidence of the whether the repair work was done earlier that day or after the accident occurred because authorities came a day after the tragedy and may have got the pole rectified then.” Another local said, “It’s a pity that no FIR has been registered for the negligence.” During monsoon, such cases of electrocution are common in and around Delhi. Last month, three cases of electrocution deaths were registered on the same day at Mayur Vihar, Jamia Nagar and New Ashok Nagar. FIRs for all the three cases were lodged. Also, death of a 15-year-old in Ghaziabad, after receiving electric shock from a street pole, made news in June this year.

Not only in Delhi, in various other states in and around the capital, there has been arise in accidental deaths due to electric shocks. According to the data released by Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Limited (UPPCL) last year, more than 500 people died due to electrocution in the state. Statistics released by the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) also revealed that such incidents are on the rise in the state.

“To ensure that over 40 lakh customers of BSES enjoy an accident-free power supply, BSES Rajdhani Power Limited (BRPL) and BSES Yamuna Power Limited (BYPL), are undertaking all possible measures. The discoms’ monsoon action plan has an integrated and proactive approach, which is not only aimed at ensuring consumers’ or installations’ safety, but is also aimed at minimizing the downtime of power supply, arising out of exigencies during monsoon,” a BSES official said. He further added that BSES discoms are fully geared for the monsoons by undertaking extensive preventive maintenance. To reduce moisture-related breakdowns, active measures have been taken to minimise the accumulation of moisture in the grids and panels.

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