Inquiry into Bangalore cable tragedy indicts BCC, Bescom staff

BANGALORE: The blame game continues in the aftermath of the Bangalore cable tragedy. The latest episode has Bangalore City Corporation (BCC) finding itself in a tough spot as a preliminary inquiry initiated by Bescom's chief engineer (CE) found it responsible for the tragedy, along with the concerned Bescom staff.

On 20 July, the day the Karnataka chief minister N Dharam Singh gave some reprieve to the operators by asking Bescom to stop cutting cables, BCC had its shot at the cable operators by giving three days to cable operators to remove illegal cables using streetlights. Now the Bescom (state government run power utility Bangalore Electric Supply Company) inquiry report has put both in the dock.

The report indicts both BCC and Bescom's jurisdictional junior engineer/s (JE) for the mishap, which resulted in seven-year-old city boy Anish's death due to electrocution when he came in contact with a loose hanging wire while on an errand. The report is believed to have laid the blame on the incorrect insulation methods by BCC.

The inquiry report suggests that the insulated wires should be run through PVC pipes instead of the present arrangement. It says the insulation of the wire has worn out at the intersection of metal wire and insulated street light cable due to friction and wind, resulting in leakage of wire from the street light cable to the metal wire. This resulted in some arcing, which was reported to the Bescom.

The concerned JE shut down supply to the wire from one transformer and cut the metal wire to test. He tested one half (the left side as per reports) and found that there was no leakage of current. He didn't check the other end, which was powered by another transformer. This live wire and the attached cable wire fell on the ground, which resulted in the electrocution. In his report, the chief engineer has recommended the concerned JE's dismissal.

The CE report suggests that the insulated street light cable be run through a PVC pipe so that there is no chance of power leakage at any point.

BCC commissioner K Jothiramalingam refused to comment saying he has to see the report first. He added that, in a meeting between the chief minister and Bescom it was decided that BCC would convert 3000 electric switches on street-lights to solar powered switches.

The Karnataka State Cable TV Association spokesperson Ponnacha, meanwhile, said all the effected cable operators are considering legal action for redress and recovery of damages, but they may take a call after a meeting of cable operators on the matter. Reports from the other two inquiries -- including the one by the chief electrical inspector to the government -- are awaited.

A memorandum similar to the one given by the cable operators to Bescom will be submitted to BCC. The cable operators are willing to make changes or adopt new measures suggested by BCC.

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