Nepra 'misguided' panel on electrocutions in KE jurisdiction: senator

Senator says there have been a lot of casualties in other cities like Hyderabad and Lahore where KE did not operate


​ Our Correspondent October 11, 2019
PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary panel on Thursday directed the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) to submit a detailed report on the cases of electrocution in the areas of all power distribution companies (Discos).

Chairman Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat Senator Talha Mehmood said that Nepra had "misguided the committee to some extent" regarding electrocutions in the jurisdiction of K-Electric (KE).

The Nepra Industry Report 2018 had reported 879 electrocutions in the jurisdictions of all the state-owned power distribution companies. The committee was informed that Discos had to report to Nepra about any casualty but they did not submit any report.

"What actions have been taken," Senator Talha Mehmood asked.

The senator said that an impression was given as KE had been responsible for many electrocutions but stressed that there had been a lot of casualties in other cities like Hyderabad and Lahore where the KE did not operate.

The chairman expressed serious concerns over the absence of Nepra chief.

Chairman Board of Directors KE Ikram Sehgal informed the committee that Nepra in its report had recommended to the government to privatise all public sector utilities in a follow-up to KE.

Sehgal said that 40% of non-urban areas in Karachi were unplanned where there were garbage and rains issues.

“Garbage, water, and internet cable on electric poles are major issues in Karachi, and, therefore, it should be the shared responsibility of all regarding casualties,” he added.

While briefing the committee, Chief Distribution Officer K-Electric Amer Zia said that the majority of incidents that took place during recent urban flooding in Karachi occurred inside homes and buildings either because of faulty wiring or the unsafe use of electrical appliances, which was out of KE's control.

He also said that cable TV, internet wires and illegal connections (kundas) on electricity poles were the underlying cause behind most of the incidents, which occurred during the recent rains.

According to Nepra’s state of Industry Report 2018, KE has one of the lowest ratios of electrocution incidents across all Discos.

According to KE, an independent audit was also being conducted to make the electricity infrastructure even more safe and secure.

USD2.1 billion have been invested by KE in Karachi's power infrastructure since 2009, including Rs50 billion in transmission and distribution in the last three years.

The committee also considered 'The Regulation of Generation, Transmission, and Distribution of Electric Power' (Amendment) Bill 2019 moved by Senator Raza Rabbani in the senate.

During the meeting, Rabbani said that provinces should be given the power to appoint members of Nepra. Currently, provinces recommended a name and the federal government appointed the member after due diligence in line with the set mechanism.

However, Rabbani said that the federal government should be bound to appoint a member of Nepra recommended by the province.

Secretary Power Division Irfan Ali maintained that the present system of due diligence should continue.

However, all members of the committee said that provinces should be empowered to appoint members of Nepra.

Rabbani also criticised the federal government for not calling the meeting of Council Interest (CCI) which was a forum to settle disputes between provinces and the federal government.

He said that the government was bound to summon a session of CCI after 90 days but nothing had been scheduled despite the passage of 400 days.

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