ISLAMABAD: The National Electric Regulatory Authority (Nepra) has held the K-Electric (KE) responsible for 19 of the 35 cases of electrocution deaths during the recent spell of rains in Karachi. The regulatory body had constituted an investigation team that visited Karachi to look into allegations against the KE over its mismanagement and ascertain the circumstances that led to the deaths.
During the first two spells of monsoon rain in Karachi, at least 35 people were electrocuted to death. Over 10 FIRs have been registered against the power utility and its senior officials, while a number of petitions have been filed against the KE in the Sindh High Court as well as in the lower courts.
According to a statement issued by the power regulator on Friday, the committee, constituted under Section 27A of NEPRA Act 1997, has submitted its investigation report to the authority regarding the loss of human lives due to electric shocks and suspension of power supply for prolonged durations during rains in Karachi between July 29 and 30, as well as August 10 to 12.
As per the report, the KE is responsible for 19 out of 35 electrocution deaths and the breakdown of power supply for long durations. The NEPRA has decided to initiate legal proceedings against the K-Electric under relevant provisions of the NEPRA Act 1997. A show-cause notice has been issued to the KE for the above charges.
Reacting to the investigation committee’s report, the KE issued a statement, which said that it was a responsible, law-abiding organisation and would submit its response to the authority in stipulated time. The statement added that the KE was deeply saddened by the tragic incidents that occurred during the recent torrential rains and sympathised with the affected families. “It is however important to mention that many of these unfortunate incidents occurred inside homes due to faulty wiring, unsafe use of electrical appliances or because of kundas and the unwarranted placement of cable TV and Internet cables on electricity poles, a fact which is also substantiated by the NEPRA’s initial findings as well,” the statement reads.
The KE spokesperson said that the power utility has resolved to undertake required remedial measures in light of NEPRA’s investigation results, the report of which is yet to be received from NEPRA. “KE regularly conducts exercise to identify opportunities for infrastructure improvement and to strengthen both reliability and safety of power supply,” the statement reads. “However, the power utility continues to highlight that external challenges such as standing water, encroachments around electricity infrastructure, and theft of grounding wires, not only damage KE’s infrastructure but also jeopardise the integrity of the electricity system and bypass laid down electrical safety mechanisms thus creating public safety hazards,” it adds. All these external factors, said the KE, which come under the purview of different civic bodies in Karachi, have a significant effect on the power utility’s ability to ensure provision of safe and reliable electricity to its customers.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 7th, 2019.