BHUBANESWAR: The Odisha government on Monday suspended four officials, two engineers each of the Southern Electricity Supply Company (Southco) and Rural Development Department for dereliction of duty that led to the electrocution of ten passengers in a bus in Ganjam district on Sunday, February 9, 2020.
"Junior engineer (JE) Debasish Nayak and Assistant Engineer (AE) Biswaranjan Moharana of Berhampur Electrical Division-III along with Swaraj Kumar Panigrahi (JE) and Purna Chandra Behera, sub-divisional officer (SDO) of Rural Development department, Berhampur Circle have been suspended for their negligence," Minister of State for Energy Dibya Shankar Mishra told reporters here after a high-level meeting.
The Minister further said that the sagging wire of the 11 KV line will be raised to a standard height of 20 feet from the ground across the state. The four distribution companies including Central Electricity Supply Utility (Cesu), North Easter Electricity Supply Company (Nesco) and Western Electricity Supply Company (Wesco) have been asked to conduct a survey of low transmission and distribution lines and raised to sagging wire to the standard height for human and animal safety.
The action was taken following a report submitted by Southco on the directive of Chairman and Managing Director of Odisha Power Transmission Corporation Limited (OPTCL) Sourabh Garg.
Describing the tragedy as man made, the BJP demanded resignation of the Energy Minister. "The tragedy could have been avoided and precious lives of those who got electrocuted could have been saved had Southco taken time action to raise the sagging wire of the 11 KV line," said state BJP spokesperson Golak Mohapatra.
The state government claimed to have utilised huge fund on the restoration of distribution infrastructure in Ganjam and other southern Odisha districts after cyclones Hudhud and Phailin hit the coastal belt of the state. The bus tragedy exposed the quality of restoration works undertaken by the Government and this required a thorough probe, he said.