Rule violators to be charged with intruding into protected area

From mid-September, criminal charges will be slapped against advertisement agencies, political parties and others who fix display boards and other publicity materials on electric posts.

Similar action will be taken against cable TV operators, telephone companies etc., that pull cables and wires through the posts. The decision was taken on Saturday, a day after a young bike rider died after being caught in a cable that was hanging low from a post in Mattancherry.

Protected installations

“Rule violators must remove cables and advertisement materials within the specified period since electric posts are protected installations as per guidelines issued by the Central Electricity Authority. Offenders will be charged with intruding into a protected area, which is a criminal offence,” said Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) Deputy Chief Engineer P. Keshavadas.

Initially, offenders will be warned and the expenses incurred by the KSEB for removing the materials realised from them. A police case too will be filed and those concerned will have to give an undertaking in writing that they will not repeat the offence. Following this, full-fledged criminal action will be initiated against the offenders.

“The cooperation of police and civic agencies will help in ensuring the safety of road users and KSEB personnel. Often, our workers are unable to board posts for regular repair and inspection works because too many cables and display materials are affixed to posts,” Mr. Keshavadas said.

He said the KSEB had given permission to a couple of firms to pull television cables through electric posts. But even they do not abide by mandatory safety norms. Statutory distance from power lines is often not maintained, neither are the cables properly clamped to posts. Besides posing danger to motorists and pedestrians, unscientifically-drawn cables and wires often result in electric posts slanting to one side.

Advertisement firms often adopt short cuts and hoodwink their clients since the permission of civic agencies is a must for erecting poles and installing advertisements. For this, they must pay licence fee and other requirements. Installing boards on posts is one way of saving cost and evading rules.

Engineers attached to local KSEB offices have been asked to step up their patrolling to keep tabs on rule violations.

Stern department-level action is on the anvil against officials found guilty of bypassing safety precautions. A meeting of the district-level accident reduction committee chaired by District Collector P.I. Sheikh Pareeth on Saturday took this decision. It comes in the wake of 33 people losing their life in 52 accidents in the district last year. The victims include members of the public, KSEB personnel and contract employees.

Ignorance of the public, failure of KSEB systems and negligence by employees were found to be the primary causes behind incidents of electrocution, while firms that pulled cables were liable for loss of life caused by people getting caught in cables and wires. Kudumbasree workers will be trained to conduct awareness campaigns, while special training programmes will be organised for KSEB employees, contract workers and wiring contractors.

The stakeholders at the meeting recommended that electricity consumers install earth leakage circuit breaker in their buildings to avoid accidents. Wiring and other related works should be entrusted only to licensed contractors. A toll free number will be activated for information on accidents and the circumstances that lead to accidents. Till then, the KSEB control room (0484-2392358) will serve this purpose.

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