It is a matter of high tension. As many as 10,250 buildings in the city have not maintained the mandatory minimum distance from high tension power lines. And who should take action? BESCOM points to BBMP, which in turn says the state government should take a call.
BESCOM and BBMP woke up after a number of electrocution-related deaths, especially of children earlier this year. Officials of the two agencies inspected the entire city for buildings located too close to high tension power lines and found 10,250 buildings including residential structures are in danger as they have not maintained the required distance from Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation’s extra high tension lines of 66kV and above and BESCOM’s 11 kV lines.
As per the Indian Electricity Act, buildings should maintain a horizontal distance of 1.2 metres from 11kV lines and 4 metres from 66kV lines. This buffer zone has been violated in the above cases. However, since the survey concluded, no action has been taken except for issuing notices to the building owners.
“In the notice, we have asked them to either modify or vacate the premises. Some structures such as slum sheds will have to be demolished as there is no scope of modification,” said a BESCOM official, adding,”Most of the buildings can actually be modified. However, people do not pay heed to notices sent from us. BBMP has the power to take action against them as it is the one which issued occupancy certificates. However, no such check or action has been taken so far.”
However, BBMP officials are unsure of their next move. “We have not had a co-ordination committee meeting with BESCOM post the survey to discuss the next steps. Zonal joint commissioners have the power to take action against structures that violate the law,” said a senior BBMP official who did not wish to be named.Asked if a directive has been issued to them to undertake action, the official said zonal officials are free to act on their own.
“BESCOM can issue disconnection notices also. However, we have to hold a co-ordination committee meeting to decide on the next step,” the official added.Speaking to TNIE, Mayor Gangambike Mallikarjun said, “No checks have happened so far as the state government has to take a call and not the BBMP. First, the coordination committee including officials of both agencies must meet. Secondly, they must hold a meeting and share the survey details with BBMP commissioner, deputy mayor, leaders of opposition and ruling party in BBMP and myself. We will then submit a report to the state government to take a call on what action is to be taken for these buildings.”
DEATHS LED TO SURVEY
The survey was a reaction to some of the avoidable electrocution deaths: On April 14 this year, a 13-year-old boy climbed a tree to pluck mangoes. The branches were not pruned and were too close to the wires. He used a wet stick to try to reach a fruit but came in contact with the live wire and was electrocuted. In another case on May 16, a 14-year-old boy who went to retrieve a ball from his neighbour’s terrace came in contact with a live wire and died after sustaining 40 per cent burns. In the same month, an eight-month-old boy was electrocuted while playing in a shed in Kodihalli.
As per the Indian Electricity Act, buildings should maintain a horizontal distance of 1.2 metres from 11kV lines and 4 metres from 66kV lines.