An “independent consumer”, while presenting his objections to a tariff petition filed by state discoms, at the Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission (GERC) on Wednesday collapsed and died when the Commission was hearing the matter.
The deceased was identified as 85-year-old Vishnu Vachharajani who had travelled all the way from Vadodara to attend the hearing. Apparently, he was an expert on electrical sector and has been raising consumer issues before the GERC in the past.
“He was one of the objectors to the tariff revision petitions that was being heard at GERC office at Gandhinagar today. The incident happened after he presented his case before the Commission. Mid-way in his argument, the Commission asked him to stop and return to his seat. Once Vishnuji returned and sat down, he collapsed,” said KK Bajaj, chief general manager (Hon.), Consumer Education and Research Centre (CERC) who was also present during the hearing.
“The GERC office is on the sixth floor in the GIFT CITY project. We first laid him on a sofa and took him to the ground floor and contacted the 108 ambulance service. The ambulance came after almost 30 minutes as the GIFT City is located in an isolated area between Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar. In between, a local doctor from nearby area was called who told us that Vishnubhai has passed away. We still took him to the Gandhinagar Civil hospital where doctors told us that he died several minutes ago,” said Bajaj while narrating the incident to The Indian Express.
“I also found a bus ticket in his pocket which showed that he had started from Vadodara at 6:30 am to attend the hearing in Gandhinagar. We have contacted his relatives and told them the incident,” he added.
As a mark of respect to the deceased, some of the consumer rights groups who are objecting to the tariff revision petition of both state discoms and Torrent Power plan to “boycott” the hearing of GERC on Wednesday when the tariff revision petition of Torrent Power is expected to be taken up.
Though GERC officials could not be contacted for a comment on the incident, senior officials of GIFT City confirmed the incident that happened at GIFT-One tower where the GERC office is currently located. “The deceased was an elderly gentleman and had died in the GERC office. He was taken to the hospital in a 108 ambulance,” senior officials from the GIFT city project said adding that the deceased apparently died due to a massive cardiac arrest.
Another person Bharat Gohil who was representing Utility Users Welfare Association before the Commission also confirmed the incident. “There was no doctor in GIFT CITY so we rang up a doctor from nearby Lavarpur village,” remarked Gohil who also witnessed the incident.
Family members of the victim, who was a resident of Akota locality in Vadodara, said that he was suffering from a heart ailment and had also undergone a bypass. “He was keeping fit and so death was unexpected,” said Sushma, the daughter-in-law of the deceased.