Three days after she was seriously injured when the power transformer near her house exploded, 32-year-old Harshada Kakade succumbed to her burns late on Tuesday. She is the third member of the family to die in the incident.
On Saturday, Harshada’s mother Sharada Kotwal (52) and daughter Shivani Kakade (5) had died from the burns they suffered following the transformer blast.
The family has alleged that for 28 years, they had been requesting the MSEDCL to fix the issue of constant transformer malfunction, but their pleas to the power company went unheard.
The transformer explosion took place at 1.30 pm on Saturday, near the family’s residence in Indrayani Nagar. The transformer, which had been installed that very day, was five feet from their house. Sharada Kotwal was bathing the child at the doorstep of their flat, and hot oil splatter from the exploding transformer fell on the three family members.
Sharada’s husband Dilip Kotwal, who lost his wife, daughter and grandchild in the accident, said, “My daughter and her child had come to our place to spend a few days with us as they could not come during the lockdown period”.
Kotwal said the new transformer was installed after the earlier transformer had malfunctioned just a day before. … The old transformer, which was emitting sparks, had malfunctioned. Our entire area had no power supply for hours. So, MSEDCL officials replaced the tranformer by 3 am on Saturday,” he said.
“When the MSEDCL officials came to repair the transformer, my wife pleaded with them to fix the issue once and for all,” said Kotwal. However, Kotwal said that instead of listening to their request, MSEDCL officials had complained to the police. “We were called to the police station… and reprimanded for arguing with MSEDCL officials,” he said.
Kotwal claimed that in almost 28 years, MSEDCL had only done a shoddy job of fixing the transformers and DPs installed in close proximity of their residence.
“Minor blasts and sparks were common… we have repeatedly seen fire incidents. When complaints were made, MSEDCL officials turned up and did some temporary work. A few days later, things were back to what they were. This has been going on for 28 years. We had lived our lives in fear… and our worst fears were realised on Saturday. My entire world has collapsed because of the deliberate negligence of MSEDCL officials. Who will punish them? Even if they are punished, can they bring back my family,” he asked.
Inspector Rajendra Kunte from MIDC police station said police have filed a case of negligence against one of the officials of MSEDCL. “We are investigating the matter… to ascertain when exactly was the new transformer installed and what kind of work was carried out. MSEDCL has also launched an inquiry by an expert committee. After our investigation, and after MSEDCL submits its report, we will take appropriate action,” he said, adding that they have issued summons to the concerned official.
“A three-member committee has been constituted to probe the incident,” said a spokesperson of MSEDCL, adding that that the family will get a compensation of Rs 4 lakh for the three victims. The role of the agency, which supplied the transformer, is also being probed, said the spokesperson
MSEDCL officials said in other parts of the city, the power company had installed transformers with an iron mesh. “Transformers which were erected on poles were covered with an iron mesh. This one was on a cement structure. We will find out why there was no iron mesh,” said an official.
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