Students preparing for examinations under streetlights

Poisonous snakes and scorpions have come to haunt the residents of KSRTC slum after the Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom) disconnected power supply in the wake of Friday's tragedy in which a 20-year-old housewife and her seven-month-old son were burnt alive.

As short-circuit was suspected to be the reason for the outbreak of fire in Nisha Hussain's house, the electricity company officials have disconnected “illegal” power supply to all the 300 houses in the KSRTC Slum, which is also known as Ragi Gudda slum in J.P. Nagar second phase.

Apart from the dread of snakes and scorpions making their way into the electricity-deprived houses, the inhabitants of the slums are forced to send their school-going children to prepare for their forthcoming annual examinations under streetlights in the vicinity.

Though most of the breadwinners in the slum are daily wagers, there are an estimated 150 students, including 55 girls, who are studying in various primary and high schools nearby, said Kuppamma, an elderly resident of the slum.

“Without power supply, we are forced to send the children to study under the streetlights,” she added.

The children are equally anxious. “Examinations are nearing and the students do not know how to prepare without power supply,” S. Rajasekaran, a Class 8 student of Government High School in Marenahalli, told The Hindu.

The students are not comfortable studying under kerosene lanterns either. “We are afraid of snakes and scorpions, particularly after sunset when our homes are dark. We chased away three snakes from our houses on Sunday,” Rajasekaran said.

“We have to run for safety when snakes enter our houses while we are studying,” Kamala Rani, a native of Tamil Nadu and student of another school, said while pointing to the absence of streetlights also in the slum.

The slum is surrounded by weeds, bushes and a few drains, considered as a breeding place for snakes and scorpions. Often snakes wander into the slum, catching its residents unawares.

Assistant Executive Engineer of the electricity company Manjunath said that they had to disconnect all illegal power connections at the slum to avert any possible electrocution cases.

Another official said that they are even contemplating registering suo moto cases against the slum dwellers for stealing power. Meanwhile, the power company officials said that they will not resume power supply until the Karnataka State Slum Development Board comes forward and makes out an application for providing temporary power connection.

A board official said that the matter relating to power supply will be discussed with senior officials as well as the power company officials. “We will take some positive steps”, the official said.