Power firm cracks the whip on safety norms

NEW DELHI MAY 22. Unmindful of the innocent lives claimed by the Uphaar cinema hall fire tragedy, cinema halls, banquets halls, government hospitals, private nursing homes, schools and colleges in the Capital continue to flout safety norms with regard to power equipment and safety aspects. But North Delhi Power Limited (NDPL) has decided to crack the whip against these errant big consumers warning them that their power supply would be disconnected in the next 30 days if immediate steps are not taken to adhere to the prescribed safety norms.

``We have already issued notices to defaulting installations found violating the law after a safety audit by our experts,'' the NDPL CEO, Anil Sardana, told newsmen during an interactive session here. Surprisingly, heading the list of unsafe buildings is Delhi's oldest Inter-State Bus Terminus at Kashmere Gate and its inspection and maintenance depot at Burari.

The notices, Mr. Sardana said, forced Delhi's Transport Commissioner to personally inspect the ISBT and order installation of safety equipment and electric gadgets as per the prescribed norms.

Mr. Sardana said notices were issued following a survey of all premises where people gather in large numbers and the results were shocking. Of the 53 cinema and banquet halls, only 12 were found to be safe from the electricity point of view. Another 16 have improved after letters were sent to them in this regard.

Surprisingly, none of the 222 hospitals and nursing homes in North and North-West Delhi were found to be safe and electricity hazard-proof. As regards schools and colleges, only 28 of 117 of these premises surveyed were found to be dangerous. Six of them have improved after letters were written to them. "Many of these even questioned the authenticity of our survey. But when we sent them the pictures of their electrical installations, they retracted and promised to do the needful. ''At many of the banquet halls, electrical gadgets were found to be installed or hidden behind cloth curtains. No safety measure were being followed,'' said Mr. Sardana.

He said NDPL has offered free help to these utilities to upgrade their safety standards as the discom does not want any Uphaar-type tragedy to take place.

In his detailed presentation, the NDPL claimed to have made impressive progress during its nearly one-year existence in the Capital. Against their opening aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) loss of 63.1 per cent in July 2002, the figure came down to 47.7 per cent in March this year. The number of local breakdowns and faults too have come down drastically. The revenue collection due to enforcement activities too has increased during the past one year and in April this year it crossed Rs. 1 crore mark.

The NDPL has prepared a detailed Capital Expenditure Plan (CAPAX) for the next five years. This has been prepared with the sole objective of dealing with the AT&C loss and attaining self- sustainability. System augmentation and management too have improved drastically during the past one year, the result of which was being felt at ground level in terms of better availability of electricity, it is claimed.

``Transformers which were earlier scheduled to be either junked or replaced by Delhi Vidyut Board have now been repaired at 30 per cent cost and the repairing company has given a guarantee of five years,'' he said, adding that a similar arrangement was made for the repair of cable joints. "Further, the distribution sub-stations too have been revamped.''

Availability of critical material for rectification has been revamped. "Now we have one centralised store which works in two shifts. During summer months, it would be opened in night,'' he said. The number of field staff has been increased and they were being given special training.

Referring to the response, he said that when they took over the NDPL used to receive 12,000 calls per day. "Now these have come down to 1,000,'' he pointed out. However, he conceded that a lot still needs to be done on the streetlight front.

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