With another transformer blast in the heart of the city on Wednesday, where a major fire mishap was averted, questions about the threat posed by electricity transformers installed on footpaths and congested areas have once again come to the fore. In May last, a similar transformer blast caused a major fire in a commercial building in Begumpet, resulting in all the four floors being gutting.
Though there are plans to shift transformers from busy places, Central Power Distribution Company officials say lack of alternative space is their biggest constraint. With over one lakh transformers in the city and around 21,000 in the metro zone posing serious threat in many congested localities, officials blame the civic body for its failure to control encroachments around installed transformers and identify suitable open spaces.
Chief general manager (metro zone) AG Satish Kumar said, “Space is always the problem in the city. We have always been approaching GHMC for open spaces for our substations and public transformers. But where is space available?”
Further, he pointed out that the spaces around transformers are bing occupied, about which the power distribution company cannot do much.
In Wednesday’s incident, fire spread quickly at an eatery at Adarsh Nagar. “Do they have permission for construction so close to the transformer. What is the GHMC doing?” he asked.
GHMC officials say it is the power utility’s responsibility to identify transformers that needed relocation.
Satish Kumar said the present transformers in city are placed ideally. “They are close to load centers. They cannot be shifted to far away locations without casing problems in power supply.”
According to him, there are many external factors that lead to a transformer explosion. “Generally, transformers do not catch fire on their own. They get heated up with increasing power load. When pressure builds up, it leads to oil spill out along with sparks, which results in fire” he said.
According to fire department officials, there are several conditions that needed to be met. “All transformers must be fenced and must have soak pits them. When there is not adequate space, they should erect air-cooled or dry transformers, instead of oil-cooled ones,” said GV Narayana Rao, regional fire officer.