THE haphazard and chaotic installation of power supply lines, more in Dhaka, is becoming extremely dangerous. Exposed overhead power lines and transformers installed near houses, as New Age reported on Wednesday, have become fatally risky for city dwellers as people become electrocuted regularly. In several congested localities of the capital, especially in Old Town, high-voltage lines and transformers are installed within an easy reach of people. Power lines are often found within the reachable distance from balconies and windows of houses. Many transformers are also installed in narrow crossings or alleys between residential buildings. It is not surprising that electrocution has now become a common occurrence in such places. Many people in Old Town have recently been severely injured; some even died after accidentally coming in contact with live power lines from balconies or windows. Children are easy victims of electrocution. According to the Dhaka Medical College burn unit, they treat about 200 patients, majority of whom are electrocution victims, every day. In this context, it will not be an overstatement to suggest that unplanned and haphazard installation of power lines is becoming a public health concern that authorities should pay immediate attention to.
It has been widely reported that the faulty layout of power supply lines as well as the negligence and careless attitude of the power supply agencies are mainly responsible for such frequent and random electrocution of people in Old Town and in other city areas. There is also allegation that the power supply agencies do not heed the request of the residents of congested areas to shift the risky power lines. Urban planners have pointed out that the authorities have kept no buffer space between houses and the live wires and transformers in their design of laying out power lines. There is no system of underground power supply in the capital. In addition, authorities have so far failed to provide insulated cables in Old Town. House owner too are at fault as they violate the building code by not leaving free space. There is a general lack of awareness among people of the risks involved in violating these codes. In the absence of any effective monitoring system, violation has become the norm. The prevailing situation reveals the failure and negligence of all authorities responsible for safe power line installation and building code implementation.
Considering that citizens are at risk of fatal accidents, the government must take immediate action to shift all faulty and risky power supply lines and transformers in Old Town as well as on other places. It should, however, also look into the matter of regular violation of the building codes and take action against house owners in cases of violation. In the long run, agencies that supply power to the city must consider the option of the installation of underground power line.
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