An operation to repair two electricity pylons blown up by suspected tribal insurgents earlier this week was called off following the death of one of the repairmen in a landmine blast in the Machh area of Bolan district on Tuesday.
“Aslam Maseh, a member of the Quetta Electric Supply Company (Qesco) team repairing 132 KV and 22 KV towers, inadvertently stepped on a landmine planted by the insurgents near the damaged pylons,” Qesco spokesman Mohammad Afzal Baloch told The Express Tribune.
Maseh sustained critical wounds in the ensuing explosion. He was driven to a nearby hospital where medics referred him to a hospital in Quetta due to his critical wounds. However, he died on the way.
After the incident, the National Transmission and Distribution Company (NTDC) stopped the repair work. Surprisingly enough, security agencies had given clearance for the repair work, presumably after scanning the area for any explosive devices.
On July 18, tribal insurgents had dynamited four electricity pylons near the Bibi Nani area of Bolan, suspending supplies to 17 districts of Balochistan including Quetta. It took the security agencies four hours to give clearance for repairs.
According to a Qesco press release, the landmine was planted at a distance of 9 feet from pylon No 182.
The 220 KV and 132 KV transmission lines had been sabotaged several times in the past. Since 2003, around 230 attacks have been reported in which 65 pylons of 220 KV and 165 pylons of 132 KV have been targeted. The repair of these pylons cost around Rs500 million, while revenue losses due to these attacks run in trillions of rupees.
Similarly, five workers of Qesco and NTDC have died and many more maimed while repairing damaged pylons thus far.
According to the Qesco findings, the state treasury bears a loss of Rs30 million a day due to the closure of a 220 KV circuit and around Rs10 million due to the closure of a 132 KV transmission line on average.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2013.