BERHAMPUR: The Southern Electricity Supply Company (Southco) on Tuesday put the blame on higher authorities of Energy department and OPTCL for the mishap at Mendrajpur chowk within Golanthara police limits in which 10 people travelling in a bus were electrocuted to death. The discom officials said electricity poles in the area have been lying in dilapidated condition and no steps were taken by the department to repair them nor were funds allocated for the purpose.
Despite repeated appeals, not a single meeting has been conducted by the Energy department and OPTCL with regards to maintenance of electricity infrastructure in the last five years. Instead, the staff have been strictly directed to focus on revenue collection, which goes to OPTCL, the officials alleged.Demanding an impartial high-level probe into the mishap, the officials said SDOs and Junior Engineers of Southco, who often face the ire of locals, have been carrying out maintenance of power infrastructure from whatever resources they have at their disposal.
Meanwhile, Congress workers led by district working president Pitabasa Panda met the SP and demanded criminal proceedings against officials responsible for the tragedy. Similarly, an FIR was filed against Southco and Rural Development department officials by SUCI and Manav Adhikar Surakhya Manch.
The State Government on Monday had suspended four officials, two engineers each of Southco and Rural Development Department for dereliction of duty. “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 had told reporters at Bhubaneswar after a high-level meeting.
On the other hand, Golanthara police on Tuesday arrested the driver of the ill-fated bus, Gagan Bihari Nayak, who had been absconding since the mishap. The conductor of the vehicle is still at large. The ordeal of those critically injured in the accident continues. While one of the injured D Mahalaxmi, admitted to SCB Medical College and Hospital at Cuttack, is still unconscious, the legs of B Sarada Reddy may have to be amputated, said Dambaru Reddy, who recovered from his wounds and returned to Dankalpadu village on the day.