Contrary to the general impression that K Electric (KE)—the private power distribution company that supplies electricity to Karachi—is responsible for recent deaths in Karachi, the company’s leadership on Thursday revealed startling figures that showed various factors—natural and man-made—contributing to fatal and non-fatal accidents in recent rains.
Chairman of KE Ikram Sehgal informed Senate’s Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat chaired by Senator Talha Mehmood that in recent rains majority of the deaths in Karachi occurred due to kundas (illegal connections), presence of cable-TV and optical fiber wires on the KE pylons, theft of earth wires and last but not least public indifference to preventive measures advised by K-Electric before rains.
Flanked by senior officials of KE including Chief Distribution Officer Amer Zia, Director Govt-KE relations Sajjad Asghar Khan Shahani and others Sehgal said a standard operational procedure (SOP) was in place in the company’s system to ensure safety of people’s lives throughout the year while extra caution is observed in rainy season.
Out of 35 deaths that occurred during July 29-31 and August 10-12 this year, KE is being held responsible for 19 deaths.
Our inquiry is under process according to which death of eight persons may be caused by K-Electric system fault or failure, in six deaths KE was not involved, one was purely an accident. Ikram Sehgal said K-Electric is providing electricity to a city of 250 million people, a city that is unplanned (40pc of Karachi is built without proper designing or planning) and kunda mafia is ruling most of those unplanned semi-urban areas of the city.
According to Amer Zia Chief Distribution Officer KE is supplying electricity to 3 million connections while more than 300,000 to 500,000 kundas were being used (16 pc of total electricity being supplied) for illegal connections and in rainy season these kunda contribute majority of fatal and non-fatal accidents.
According to Mr Amer Zia K-Electric is working on a mega plan of introducing ABC (Aerial Bundle Conductors) system that guarantees zero accidents or theft incidents.
Ikram Sehgal on this occasion informed lawmakers that all over the world Internet Fiber Optical cables are laid underground while in Karachi they are supplied via K-Electric poles that again cause accidents during rains. Cable network and water and sewerage system are the major factors for cause of deaths during rains in Karachi, said he.
Sehgal further said majority of the incidents occurred inside homes because of either the faulty wiring or unsafe use of electrical equipment. He that non-KE infrastructure such as kundas and TV/internet cables encroached on power installations and hanging lights were beyond the control of KE. He said KE was far behind other distributing companies in terms of fatal and non-fatal incidents difference only is they are under reported.
Director General National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA)Nadir Ali Khoso on this occasion said NEPRA had developed a proforma that binds all distributing companies (Discos) to bring to Authority’s notice such deaths caused by rain or faulty system. Chairman of the Standing Committee directed the NEPRA representative to submit a comparative report. He also suggested the committee members to visit Karachi and see by themselves on ground situation there. The committee was attended by Senator Azam Khan Swati, Senators Dr Ashok Kumar, Senator Najma Hameed, Senator Anwar Lal Deen, Senator Javed Abbasi, Senator Rubina Khalid, Senator Mian Raza Rabbani and others.