Pre-cast and common ducts with leased-out space for telecom, power distribution and other companies are projected to be the only way for fulfilment of a dream towards a wire-free city.
With GHMC already contemplating ducts on major stretches of the city, the Central Power Distribution Company (CPDCL) struggling with its underground cabling project, may take the cue and join the effort.
Under the duct system, pre-cast pipes will be placed underground, usually beneath the tiled pathways, for various companies to buy space on lease for the laying of cables.
So far, the contention of power authorities against underground cabling of the entire power distribution network is that it will be very expensive and not within the means of the company.
Making the entire GHMC area conductor-free is expected to cost nearly Rs. 6, 000-crore—supposedly an impossible investment in view of CPDCL's hand-to-mouth existence.
According to official estimates, the underground cabling of the 33-KV distribution lines cost nearly Rs. 25 lakh per kilometre, while for 11-KV and low-tension lines, it is Rs. 18 lakh per kilometre.
“Road-cutting charges payable to GHMC are the major component of this expenditure, amounting to nearly Rs. 10-lakh per kilometre. Earlier, as per the then Chief Minister Y.S.Rajasekhara Reddy's directions, the GHMC charged only 50 percent of the actual fee. Of late, they restored the charges to normal again, rendering the project very expensive,” said Chairmam and Managing Director M.T. Krishna Babu.
CPDCL can take up only phase-wise cabling depending upon availability of funds and as of now, underground cabling is ruled out for low tension lines, he said. Instead, Aerial Bunched Cables are being considered as an alternative for LT lines.
The CMD also lists various other problems associated with underground cabling, such as delay in fault detection and repair, and the future need for road widening. There were instances when cables had to be abandoned as they came into the centre of the road after road-widening, he says.
Nevertheless, CPDCL could consider buying space inside the pre-cast ducts if proposed by GHMC. The ‘down time'—time taken for fault rectification—will be much lesser in case of ducts as all one has to do is to remove the tiles and place them back. However, costing Rs. 50-lakh per kilometre, ducting, too, could prove to be quite expensive.