G. Anand

Board replaces faulty infrastructure ahead of monsoon

Move will reduce transmission loss too

Shortage of staff hampers repair works

Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) is conducting pre-monsoon maintenance of its power transmission infrastructure, mainly to prevent accidental snapping of power lines and to reduce transmission loss.

Last year, 202 persons were killed (including 22 KSEB employees and 23 contract workers) and 155 suffered serious injuries in electricity supply-related accidents. Forty-nine livestock was also killed. This year till March, 35 persons were killed and 23 injured in such accidents.

The KSEB is insulating exposed stay wires, shackling sagging power lines and replacing old electric posts and worn out conductors. It is also pruning trees that touch its 2.8 lakh km long maze of overhead electricity lines.

Strong wind and falling tree branches are the main cause for accidents and power outages during monsoon. Trees touching power lines also cause significant transmission loss.

The KSEB is also battling shortage of field staff, particularly in rural areas, to address complaints from consumers.

An official said contract workers, including retired staff, are being hired to carry out repair works at short notice. However, such workers rarely hazard inspecting power lines on rainy nights owing to the high risk involved.

He said power outages which affect more than 10,000 households and breakages of 11 kV and above power lines will be immediately rectified.

Complaints pour in

Last year, the KSEB received 2,42,733 complaint calls from its consumers in Thiruvananthapuram. Its offices in Kochi and Kozhikode received 94,415 and 1,78,723 calls respectively. This year between January and March, the KSEB handled a total of 1,11,028 complaint calls from urban consumers.

Power lines often break down when household consumption of electricity peaks between 6 p.m. and 9.30 p.m. In cities, power lines are overloaded (often up to 110 per cent of their optimum capacity) during this period. There are 70 lakh domestic consumers in Kerala and every year their numbers increase by nearly 5 lakh.

Voltage fluctuations and power surges caused by lightning destroy crores of rupees worth of electronic appliances every year during monsoon. (Kerala is also one of the biggest markets in the country for voltage stabilisers owing to the often unreliable quality of power supply.)

Sources said the KSEB had added 34 substations in the past two years to improve power quality. It is also aspiring to reduce transmission loss from 23.2 per cent to 15 per cent by 2011.