It is a miracle that accidents, like the one that claimed the lives of two persons on Sunday, do not occur more frequently in the Rajendranagar slum, near Koramangala.
For, the untidy strands of electricity wires lining the streets of the locality look more like clotheslines. They run so close to the first floor balconies of houses here that even a child could reach out and touch them.
Muniyamma (55) and Pratap (18) were electrocuted late on Sunday when the arch of the temple chariot they were pushing came in contact with an overhead high-tension electricity wire. Seven others were grievously injured.
In fact, that is exactly what killed Paliyamma (60), who lived just five houses away from the spot of Sunday's tragedy. “Last January, she accidentally touched the electricity wire outside her balcony as she was trying to put out some wet clothes to dry,” says Anthony Raj, a resident. At the other end of the same narrow road, a child was electrocuted two years ago when she tried to grab a colourful string that was dangling from the wire.
On August 8, Priyaranjan (15) was grievously injured when he breached the electric field generated by a high-tension wire that ran just a few feet away from the balcony of this school in Ejipura, which is a km from Rajendranagar.
Not only are they dangerously close to the balconies, the wires in the crowded areas of Viveknagar, Ejipura and Rajendranagar have also expanded and drooped to around seven feet at several places.
Even though BESCOM Managing Director P. Manivannan insists that the height of the wires across the city is no lower than 8.5 metres, it doesn't take a measuring tape to prove that the sagging wire that killed Muniyamma and Pratap at 1st Cross Rajendranagar was nowhere near 8.5 metres from the ground. Mr. Manivannan blames the BBMP for not enforcing building bylaws pertaining to setbacks. However, local councillor S.M. Murugesh Mudaliar says that enforcing building bylaws in a city like Bangalore is easier said than done.
What is needed, says Mr. Mudaliar, is Insulated Aerial Bunched Cables. These cables are covered with a layer of material that do not conduct electricity and have been laid at several upmarket areas of the city. “They are prohibitively expensive,” says Mr. Manivannan.
He says that the Bescom would be more than happy to provide its personnel as escorts during processions where the risk of contacting a high-tension wire is high.