By Our Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, March 25: Non-government organization (NGO) Swaraj Asom has alleged that on account of gross negligence, ineffectiveness and irresponsibility of the Assam Power Distribution Company Ltd (APDCL), a very large number people in the State had to lose their lives due to electrocution and other accidents.
This allegation was made by Bhaben Handique, convenor of Swaraj Asom, while addressing a press meet in Guwahati on Sunday. Significantly, the press meet was made on the basis of information received through RTI. Handique gave information regarding the death of 492 people from 2006-2017 in power-related accidents. He, however, said that an APDCL engineer, Late Anuj Goswami, did write an article that was published after his death put the death toll due to power-related accidents at over 1,100 from 2006. This led Handique to cast down on the death toll given by himself.
Based on the data collected through RTI, Handique told media persons that during the period 2006 to 2017, on account of electrocution, in Tezpur division of APDCL, 121 persons died while 97 were injured. So far as other divisions are concerned, in the Silchar division 35 died, in the Dibrugarh division 95 died, in Jorhat division 56 died, in Guwahati division 115 died and in Zone 1 (comprising Morigaon district, gaon district and Karbi Anglong district) 59 persons died of electrocution during the period 2006 to 2017.
Bhaben Handique further said that the interl inspection reports by senior officials of the APDCL also reveal that majority of these deaths by electrocution occurred due to irresponsibility and ineffectiveness of the company. With the number of deaths caused by electrocution being exceptiolly high and a routine feature, Handique has termed the APDCL as a serial killer.
While the interl reports of the APDCL press for better magement and doing away with corruption and other evils plaguing the company, a deaf ear has been turned by the higher authority to the recommendations and suggestions made for improvement in the functioning of the company, particularly in the matter of public safety.
Swaraj Asom has also alleged that earlier Aluminum Conductor Stell Reinforced (ACSR) cables were used; but now All Aluminum Alloy (AAA) cables are being used in Deen Dayal Upadhay Gram Jyoti Yoja (DDUGJY) which was earlier christened as Rajiv Gandhi Gramya Vaidutikaran Yoja (RGGVY). Swaraj Asom is of the view that this is one of the causes of rising number of such electrocution deaths.
Meanwhile, the Assam Government has constituted a probe committee headed by Justice HN Sarma, retired Judge of the Gauhati High Court, to enquire into the cause such deaths since April 2017. The SA convener told media persons that while the government initiative is welcomed, the probe would only cover a very limited period. Hence, Handique has appealed to the government for a larger probe covering the entire period from 2006 till date.