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NEPRA holds K-Electric responsible for electrocutions in Karachi, imposes Rs50mn penalty

The regulator has also ordered K-Electric to carry out third party verification of its distribution system. KE
Updated 11 Dec 2019
  • The regulator has also ordered K-Electric to carry out third party verification of its distribution system.
  • KE has been directed to complete its internal investigation and submit its final report to the authority.

The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) imposed on Tuesday a fine of Rs50 million on K-Electric (KE) and has directed the Karachi’s power supplier to complete earthing and grounding of its distribution system by April 2020.

The regulator has also ordered K-Electric to carry out third party verification of its distribution system. KE has also been directed to complete its internal investigation and fix the responsibilities on its employees/management and submit its final report to the authority.

The penalties come after Karachi experienced heavy rainfall during July and August this year. Dozens of people lost their lives due to electrocution and the supply remained suspended for long duration. In view of forging, the authority initiated formal investigation to ascertain the facts and causes of fatalities and determine whether any violation of NEPRA laws has been committed by KE.

“Investigation revealed among other violations of terms and conditions of KE’s license and NEPRA laws that 19 fatalities occurred due to lack of earthing of LT/HT poles and leakage of current from the distribution facilities of KE. Therefore, the Authority decided to initiate legal proceedings against KE and a Show Cause Notice was issued to KE under Section 27B and Section 28 of the NEPRAAct, 1997,” read a statement by NEPRA.

Based on the evidence available on the record, submissions of KE and relevant provisions of the laws the Authority passed an order on 09-12-19.

The regulator informed that in the Order the Authority has observed that KE has failed to discharge its statutory obligation to maintain safety standards and ensure that distribution facilities do not cause leakage of current.

Meanwhile, the design of distribution network of KE does not meet the design requirements as laid down in the relevant Code and Manual. Moreover, KE allowed telephone/TV/internet cable operators to use its distribution network in a hazardous manner for their purposes. Further, KE failed to report fatalities immediately after occurrence to the Authority in a prescribed manner and also failed to restore supply of electricity within the prescribed time limits.

The authority has also considered the submissions of KE to give reasonable compensation to bereaved families in good faith and that details of such compensation paid to families of victims shall be shared with the Authority in due course of time.

K-Electric will submit a review with the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) regarding the recent decision on the unfortunate incidents in Karachi. The power utility will review the report in detail and submit an appropriate reply. K-Electric is a law-abiding and responsible organization which ensures compliance with all respective regulations and guidelines and is committed to providing safe and reliable power supply to its customers.

There are a number of primary and underlying external factors which compromise the integrity of the power infrastructure. These include illegal kundas, unauthorized use of power infrastructure by cable TV and internet service providers and standing water around electricity infrastructure. These factors bypass electrical safety mechanisms thus creating public safety hazards. KE feels that these factors warrant serious attention.

The threat to public safety and increased accidents due to these factors are well-acknowledged in this region resulting in multiple drives to remove them from the power infrastructure. One example is to shift these cables underground.

Pursuant to the urban flooding caused by unprecedented rains, KE filed a Constitutional petition in the High Court of Sindh, in October, 2019. The petition cited as respondents, cable TV and Internet companies, the city administration, municipal bodies and concerned regulators. KE asserts that the power infrastructure is continuously being encroached upon by cable TV providers, and internet service providers. The power utility has requested that city administration and relevant civic bodies ensure that action is taken against encroachments in Karachi. KE has highlighted other vital components including swift drainage of rainwater around power infrastructure and support in combating illegal connections and unwarranted use of the infrastructure.

KE continues to regularly conduct kunda-removal drives across the city and this year alone removes more than 200,000 kilograms of kundas. KE has initiated a net-work-wide study by a certified third-party contractor to identify opportunities for infrastructure improvement to further strengthen both reliability and safety of power supply. This includes grounding of electricity poles and clearing the power infrastructure of cable TV and Internet wires. The power utility has written to Commissioner Karachi, Chairman PEMRA, requesting that necessary measures be taken before the next monsoons to prevent water-logging and enable the power utility to provide the best service possible.