Three persons were electrocuted in two separate incidents in the city on January 6 when they were trying to pump out stagnant rainwater. These are not stray incidents. The incidents happening inside consumer premises and snapping of conductors account for more than 50 per cent of the electrocution deaths in the State, according to data from the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tangedco).
Last year, the State recorded 521 fatalities, including 382 humans and 139 animals, till November, show the latest Tangedco statistics. Snapping of conductors caused the maximum number of deaths, 130 cases till November, with Tiruchy and Madurai regions reporting 27 and 21 cases respectively. Chennai North and South regions together recorded 27 cases in the first eight months of this fiscal.
The second biggest cause was “inside consumer premises or defective installation” leading to 108 accidents. Tirunelveli alone accounted for 43 cases, or more than 40 per cent of such accidents. “Negligence or contact with low-tension and high-tension lines” resulted in 77 accidents.
S Neelakantapillai, a retired Tangedco engineer, said 130 cases of electrocution due to snapping of conductors show systematic failure. “Tangedco should study each and every case of conductors snapping and rectify the mistakes. It happens due to excessive sag. The damaged conductors should not be used at all,” he said.
He said the utility should not ignore or blame the consumers for the accidents happening inside the consumer premises. “Who is reviewing the consumer installation and responsible for the lapses? What kind of installation failure leads to electrocution? The wiring contractor should be held accountable to ensure that only qualified and certified persons are engaged in electrical installation works,” he said, asking why Tangedco failed to make it mandatory for all the consumers to install an earth leakage circuit breaker (ELCB) to avoid shocks and accidents. “It will save people from electrocution,” he said.
A senior Tangedco official said all electrocution accidents were studied in detail by an engineer and a report is submitted on what led to it. “Most of the snapping of conductors happen during the monsoon due to heavy wind. We have instructed the field officials to inspect all the overhead cables before the monsoon to repair or replace damaged ones. The number of accidents has come down over the years,” the official said.
According to him, the utility has made it mandatory to install ELCBs in all the premises with a connected load of over two-kilo watt even though the Central Electricity Authority wanted it installed in the consumer premises with equal or more than five kw.