HC panel slams NMC, NIT, SNDL for not identifying ‘all the violators’

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 06 Jun 2018 11:04:25


Staff Reporter,

Seeks extension from HC to ensure that hearing process, regarding structures in the close proximity of HT power lines, is not hampered


                       No of violators

House properties        Metered connections

Khushi Nagar                                                                              39                               40 
Martin Nagar             19                                  22 
Snehadeep Nagar                02                                 03
Armours Town               18                                 18
Kabir Nagar              22                                 24 
Manas Mandir               02                                 02
Ramai Nagar               06                                 06
Mankapur Puliya              14                                 17 
Total             122                               132


The special committee appointed by Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court, in its report submitted to the court on Tuesday, slammed Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC), Nagpur Improvement Trust (NIT), and power distribution franchise Spanco Nagpur Discom Limited (SNDL) for not making comprehensive attempt to identify ‘all the violators’ as far as the structures beneath High Tension (HT) lines were concerned.

Also, the committee requested the High Court to allow it to function from its current office premises in Cottage No 28 of Ravi Bhavan, ‘uninterruptedly till the completion of work’ assigned to it to ensure that the hearing process was not hampered. Justice Bhushan Dharmadhikari and Justice Zaka Haq will hear the matter on Wednesday. Adv Shreerang Bhandarkar is Amicus Curiae in the matter.

Death of two twins Priyansh and Piyush Dhar in Sugat Nagar area after they accidentally touched the high tension (HT) lines had led to public outroar. The third death of a five-years-old boy Swayam Pande at Hingna also shocked everyone and badly exposed the existence of high tension lines in close proximity to residential localities exposing the flawed planning process and absolute lack of co-ordination between various agencies. Later, the High Court took suo motu cognisance of shocking deaths of these kids due to electrocution from HT lines and had issued notice to power utilities, civic agencies, and Urban Development Department seeking their response to this shocking lapse. The court had asked NMC, NIT, and SNDL to submit a list of structures in dangerously close proximity to HT power lines.
The High Court had constituted a special committee to look into the matter involving several aspects ranging from laying of HT lines dangerously near residential localities to granting sanctions to schools, colleges and localities beneath HT lines.

The seven-member committee comprised S D Jahagirdar, former IAS officer; P K Kulkarni and M P Bagde, former Executive Directors of Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL); A P Ganguly, former Vice-President of Essel Utilities; A R Shaikh, fformer Deputy Commissioner; B S Tripathi, President of Nagpur Union of Working Journalists; and Adv Gauri Venkatraman, Vice-President of High Court Bar Association and Member Convener of the committee.

The committee reviewed the list of 2,044 violators who had constructed unauthorised structures beneath HT lines. The list was placed on record by NMC, NIT, and SNDL. The committee first inspected 33 KV Nara feeder where the incident had taken place that had prompted the public interest litigation. It traced total 70 violators under three areas out of 141 noticed by SNDL. In addition, it suo motu detected 52 violators, after carrying out inspections till May 31.

At the same time, the committee observed in its report submitted to the High Court, “Though the respondents namely NIT, NMC, and SNDL have made attempt to identify the violators breaching the electrical safety clearances norms, they have not made comprehensive attempt to identify all the violators. While the three agencies put together have identified 70 structures, the committee could identify 122 structures. As to why some structures which prima facie appear as high risk, were neglected, needs to be reasoned.”

The committee also slammed the respondents for ‘conveniently ignoring’ the hutment/slums beneath HT lines. Also, during field visit, it found that a large number of structures built ‘in violation of’ construction norms are just at a hand-shake distance from 440 volt Low Tension (LT) line. It stated in the report that LT lines are ‘equally life threatening’ in case a person comes in contact with it. It observed that NIT, NMC needed to take measures to remove/modify the unauthorised structures that had compromised the electrical safety norms.

Appreciating the system of ‘overhead air bunch cables’ by MSEDCL in densely populated localities, the committee urged the High Court to direct MSEDCL and its franchise SNDL to take remedial measures forthwith. Also, it prayed that the High Court may issue notices to the violators and direct them to be present before the committee along with the relevant documents of ownership of their structures. After hearing all the violators, the committee shall place on record its findings by fixing the accountability and responsibility of violation between the property owner and/or respondent NMC, NIT, MSEDCL and/or its franchise SNDL. The committee’s findings shall comprise estimated cost of alteration, reorienntation and/or undergrounding of dangerously located feeders.