Safety at stake in residential societies

Naked wires,ill-maintained electrical equipment,poor power distribution network are making living hazardous for residents of housing societies. The death of two children recently highlights the threat citizens face in their daily life.

Written by Express News Service | Published: October 17, 2012 4:26 am

Naked wires,ill-maintained electrical equipment,poor power distribution network are making living hazardous for residents of housing societies. The death of two children recently highlights the threat citizens face in their daily life

Punitive action only if death due to negligence

The two recent deaths due to electrocution have brought forth the issue pertaining to safety of citizens living in residential societies in the city. Ironically,the law is silent on criminal prosecution of the builder/society if negligence is found,unless there is an accident or death caused due to that.

On Friday,13-month-old Sahil Wakade died when he came in contact with a lamp post while playing in the society’s garden. On Monday,Piyush Walunj (5) succumbed to the 40 per cent burns caused by a short circuit in Thergaon on August 17.

In both cases,there was negligence on part of the builder and the telecom manager.

“If any resident/consumer would have noticed the open and loose wires and complained in order to avoid an accident,the authority concerned,police,MSEDCL or municipal corporation could only give directions to get it repaired,” said senior advocate Vinayak Abhyankar.

He said as per the Bombay Provincial Municipal Corporation Act or the Civil Procedure Code,the authority concerned can only send a notice to the builder or society to conduct the repairs,as it is a private property. “If the order is not followed,MSEDCL can disconnect the electricity supply. Police or the municipal commissioner can give orders to disconnect the electricity supply,” Abhyankar said.

There is no provision to take any punitive action against the builder or society. Arrest can be made only if an accident occurs due to negligence,he said.

Satish Magar,president,Consortium of Real Estate Developers’ Association of India (CREDAI),Pune said consumers can complain to the consumer grievance cell of CREDAI if such negligence is found,provided the builder concerned is a CREDAI member. He added that no such complaints had been received by the grievance cell in the last three years.

Complaint lodged in Sahil’s death but no arrests yet

Major Sameer Wakade,father of 13-month-old Sahil Wakade who was electrocuted while playing in the garden of Kalpataru Estates Housing Society in Pimple Gurav last week,returned to the city on Tuesday. Posted in Kargil,Major Wakade was unable to return to Pune by Saturday to perform his son’s last rites.

Sahil’s grandfather Suresh Adhyapak,a retired officer of the Indian Navy,said he was right behind Sahil when the incident took place. He had also suffered electric shock when he tried to save Sahil.

Residents of the 470-flat society said the spot had now been cordoned off,but parents were still hesitant to send their children to play in the garden.

“We are scared of more such accidents as no repairs have been done. There are other spots inside the society with loose cables around,” said Dr Sanjay Sonekar,a resident of the society.

The society residents visited the Sanghvi police on Tuesday to demand an arrest in the case.

“It has been two days since a complaint has been lodged against the builder,but no arrests have been made. When we visited the police station,we were told that investigations are on,” said Sonekar.

Representatives of Kalpataru Builders failed to respond to queries mailed to them.

Focus shifts to state of electricity distribution network across city

Overheard wires hanging low,snapping of conductor wires and accidental contact with live cables are among the main reasons for accidents. Activists have urged for a thorough survey of the distribution network in the city to identify the condition of electrical equipment at public places in the city and prevent fatal accidents.

Distribution cables from the street boxes that contain transformers are often in a pathetic condition and can be a threat,claimed activist Vivek Velankar of Sajag Grahak Manch. There are many areas where the cables are lying open and can be hazardous. Velankar claimed that despite several accidents,no cases have been slapped against the power utility under Section 304 (A) of the Indian Penal Code. Electrical inspectors are required to investigate and find whether there are any technical faults.

Prayas Energy Group in its paper,prepared on a request from the Centre for Policy Research for their study for the Ministry of Urban Development in May,pointed out that there is an immediate need to prevent the fatal accidents which take place due to contact with high tension lines from the balconies and distribution poles.

The paper,which is a thumbnail sketch of electricity issues in mega cities,admits that the root cause for all this is unplanned and uncoordinated growth. Short term measures to address this include insulating lines close to buildings or shifting them altogether. Underground cables could be a long term solution,the report said. “Equally important are the issues faced by urban small consumers,” Velankar said.

MSEDCL authorities said awareness measures have been taken and safety measures are being taken up. We have involved school children in our campaign where a list of do’s and don’ts have been listed,MSEDCL’s public relations officer N Raut said. There is a need to maintain electrical safety at homes as accidents can take place due to faulty wiring and equipment.

Raut said a month-long drive was conducted by MSEDCL at schools. MSEDCL has taken measures like setting up consumer facilitation centres at some places in the state to deal with complaints from low tension residential and commercial consumers.

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