Government must lay out electric wires underground early

Published: 00:00, Sep 08,2019


ELECTRIC supply authorities and city authorities hardly appear to be caring about citizens’ lives as overhead cables remains exposed and within the reach of children from buildings standing close by. A photograph published that New Age on Saturday shows a tilted electric pole that could fall on passers-by or moving vehicles any moment. The pole also holds satellite television and internet cables. The situation is more or less the same almost everywhere, adding to the risk of death by electrocution. The burn unit in Dhaka Medical College Hospital treats at least 600 burn cases a month and majority of them are victims of burn injuries caused by exposed electric wires. While death by electrocution continues everywhere, the situation is alarming in Dhaka and more so in Old Town of Dhaka, which is overcrowded and where buildings stand close by. In such a situation, the authorities concerned hardly appear to be worried.

City residents complain that their repeated requests to remove exposed live wire have largely been ignored the authorities. Newspaper reports corroborates the allegations. The Dhaka Power Distribution Company Ltd in 2014 took up a project to lay out the power lines spanning 1200 kilometres in Dhaka and Narayanganj underground to head off threats from exposed electric wire. Only 10 per cent of the work has been completed in five years. Consultants have been hired but no actual ground has so far been done. The power distribution company says that the project work has been stalled for some ‘unavoidable reasons’. Urban planners find the explanation unacceptable as the inaction continues to result in death of citizens, mostly children. Experts acknowledge the challenge of laying out the wire underground but suggest that some action on part of the Power Development Board could minimise the risk. Satellite cable operators and internet service providers and companies rampantly use electric poles without considering the risks involved. Vested interests illegally draw lines without following any guidelines. While priority should be to immediately implement the plan to take electric wires underground, authorities should also take interim measures to contain casualties.

Exposed overhead power lines have turned the capital into a death trap. A few moments of waiting near such electric poles could become tragic. The government must, therefore, immediately attend to the ‘unavoidable reasons’ for which a project of such public interest is stalled and take the electric wires underground in the greater Dhaka area.

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