VISAKHAPATNAM: Officials of Eastern Power Distribution Company Limited of Andhra Pradesh (APEPDCL) emphatically said that the cost of the underground cabling project will not be added to the monthly power bills. A public consultation workshop on “Possible Environmental and Social Impacts of the proposed Underground Cable Project of Visakhapatnam city under AP Disaster Recovery Project” was organised to elicit opinions and suggestions, under the aegis of Visakhapatnam MLA Velagapudi Ramakrishna Babu here on Friday.
As many as 172 persons representing locals, colony welfare associations, stakeholders from cable TV association, social activists, public representatives, Traffic police and a few others took part. Right from the start, people questioned the work of underground cabling like laying the underground cables on main roads, main streets or sub-lanes, the time limit for restoration of roads after completion of the works and traffic disturbances.
However, most of the people queried about the cost impact on the monthly electricity bills. Discom director (Operations) B Seshukumar said, “Under no circumstances, the project cost will be recovered from the consumers. It is completely a multi-agency project and agencies such as GVMC, Forest Department and VUDA are stakeholders. The cost component of the APEPDCL is only `720 crore and 68 per cent of which is borne by International Development Agency of the World Bank and the rest is funded by the state government,” he said.
On the high cost of the underground cabling, divisional engineer (Projects) Surya Pratap said that it was the case in the past, but technology brought charges down. He also stated that the cost of underground cabling is just 2.2 times higher than the overhead cabling system. Chief general manager (Projects) V Vijaya Lalitha and the MLA explained the benefits of the disaster-proof project. They clarified that the underground cabling was very useful and lightning, thunder storms, gales or cyclones will not affect the cables. They also clarified that the restoration works are cheaper. The officials also promised that traffic won’t be disrupted. The works will be completely on one side of the road using some small vehicles.
The state government mooted the underground cabling system after the Hudhud cyclone uprooted many electricity poles. The city is also prone to natural calamities. The project was taken up under the Andhra Pradesh Disaster Recovery Project with funding from the World Bank. It is learnt that the first phase of the UG cabling project will be taken up in MVP Colony.
The doubts expressed by the participants were clarified by the Director, Operation & Projects, APEPDCL. He promised that their views would be incorporated in the ESIA Report to be submitted to the government.