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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Electrocution Toll in Uttarakhand: A Tragic Saga of Negligence and Loss of Lives

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Bhonpuram Khabari, Rudrapur: In a heart-wrenching incident that occurred just a couple of days ago in the Chamoli district, tragedy struck at a Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) where 16 individuals were electrocuted. This appalling incident has sent shockwaves across the state and ignited serious concerns over electrical safety measures in Uttarakhand.

The grim reality of electrocution incidents has been haunting Uttarakhand since its formation in 2000, claiming a devastating toll of 1659 lives. Additionally, 442 people have been left disabled due to such accidents, indicating a dire need for urgent and effective actions to prevent further loss of lives.

Disturbingly, there hasn’t been a single year, from 2001 to 2023, without electrocution accidents, underscoring the severity of the situation. The number of fatalities has been distressingly inconsistent, ranging from 26 to 160 deaths annually, painting a harrowing picture of the risks faced by the people. In 2017, Uttarakhand witnessed its worst electrocution toll, with 160 lives lost. Heartbreaking incidents included three deaths of workers while toiling in the fields in Uttarkashi in 2016, a tragic accident involving a bus where three passengers died and four were seriously injured in 2017, three fatalities in Khatima due to a broken electric wire in a field in 2018, and the death of a two-wheeler driver in Haldwani in 2021 after coming into contact with a broken electric wire on the road.

The causes of these electrocution incidents are varied, with some victims falling prey to broken electric wires or poles, while others have encountered fatal accidents due to contact with vehicles. Regrettably, many victims have lost their lives rather than sustaining injuries, adding to the tragedy.

The gravity of the issue extends beyond regular employees, as subcontract workers, electric subcontractors, and SHG workers have collectively witnessed the loss of over 250 lives due to electrocution while working on power lines. This has spurred calls for increased compensation and better insurance facilities to safeguard these vulnerable workers.

The current compensation policy offered by UPCL stands at four lakh rupees for electrocution-related deaths. However, the prolonged investigation process before disbursing the remaining 2.80 lakhs has aggravated the suffering of the affected families.

Fires resulting from electrical short circuits have also ravaged the state, destroying property worth crores at 206 locations. The lack of proper maintenance of electrical lines has often resulted in broken wires, endangering lives and leading to several accidents.

As the state mourns the tragic loss of 16 lives at the STP in Chamoli, it is evident that the issue of electrical safety demands immediate attention and action. The state government, UPCL, and concerned authorities must collaborate to conduct comprehensive safety audits, enforce timely inspections, and prioritize awareness and training on electrical safety.

With over 2292 electrocution incidents across Uttarakhand, there is no room for complacency. Only through collective efforts can the state ensure a safer and more secure environment, protecting the lives of its citizens and workers from the grim spectre of electrocution.

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