KARACHI: The last five years from 2016 to 2020 reveal a terrible picture with respect to number of fatal accidents as a total of 804 fatalities including both employees and general public occurred in the 10 power distribution companies (Discos) in the country.
From the reports provided by the Discos to the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra), K-Electric remained at the top with 128 fatalities including both employees and general public in its service area during the last five years followed by the Islamabad Electric Supply Company (Iesco) and the Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco) with 100 fatalities each.
The Lahore Electric Supply Company (Lesco) stood at number three with 91 fatalities, Sukkur Electric Power Company (Sepco) reported 79, Gujranwala Electric Power Company (Gepco) 77, Multan Electric Power Company (Mepco) 74, Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (Hesco) 62, and Quetta Electric Supply Company (Qesco) reported as many as 36 fatalities.
Nepra, in its latest Performance Evaluation Report 2019-20, said that of the total of 804 casualties, 160 fatalities occurred in the fiscal year 2020 alone.
The KE remained at the top with 43 fatalities in 2020.
If the figures of the employees are looked at then Pesco is the most affected where 14 employees died in a year followed by Mepco with the figure of 10 in FY2019-20.
This alarming number of fatal incidents has prompted Nepra to conduct investigations under Section 27A of the Nepra Act against these companies.
“Investigations against K-Electric, Pesco, Hesco, Sepco and Fesco have been conducted whereas the remaining Discos are also in plan. Nepra has been continuously pushing the Discos to perform better in this regard,” the report said.
It said that Discos have to give importance to every single human life and make safety their top priority.
This clearly shows that the Discos have failed to comply with the safety standards as prescribed in the Performance Standards (Distribution) Rules 2005, wherein, Rule 4 (g) states that a distribution company shall implement suitable, necessary and appropriate rules, regulations and working practices as outlined in its distribution code or applicable documents to ensure the safety of its staff and general public.
An average of 14 fatal accidents in each distribution company in a year is very alarming, and they need to take immediate measures.
Being the regulator, Nepra considers safety as of paramount importance and persistently advises the Discos to develop a culture of safety by adhering to the safety standards.
Further, investigations under Section 27A of Nepra amended Act have also been initiated against the Discos and subsequently fines have been imposed.
In addition, Discos are directed to conduct detailed surveys and identify all points of safety hazards and take immediate steps to remove such safety hazards in order to avoid fatal accidents.
Nepra’s State of Industry Report 2019-20 also highlighted the 41 fatal accidents that occurred in Karachi as a result of heavy rainfall during the months of July and August 2019.
It initiated an investigation against the KE under Section 27A of the Nepra Act. The investigation committee visited KE and the report was presented before the authority.
After due legal process, a fine of Rs50 million was imposed on KE.
Moreover, KE was also directed to complete earthing/grounding plan of its distribution network and provide compensation to the bereaved families at the earliest.
In response, the KE filed a review petition against the above mentioned decision of the authority.
The authority rejected the same and maintained its earlier decision.
Nepra also obtained the compliance/progress report from the KE with regard to earthing/grounding status of its distribution system and details of compensation paid to the bereaved families.
According to the report submitted by KE, it completed 90 percent of earthing/grounding of its total HT/LT poles.
Further, KE provided compensation to eight bereaved families.
Seven bereaved families refused to accept the compensation while the process was underway for the remaining four families, the report said.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021