Dhar says MeECL not at fault but pledges Rs 6 lakh to family

Electrocution case: Preliminary report points at short circuit

Power Minister Sniawbhalang Dhar addresses
media persons on Monday. (UB)

SHILLONG: Power Minister Sniawbhalang Dhar on Monday said the electrocution tragedy, in which six members of a family died last week, occurred due to lightning.
The Minister’s comment came hours after Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited submitted its preliminary report on the incident that said the electrocution was caused after a lightning arrester burst causing short-circuit and high voltage flow in a low-tension line.
A lightning arrester is a device used on electrical power and telecommunications systems to protect the insulation and conductors from the damaging effects of lightning. It has a high-voltage terminal and a ground terminal.
Addressing media persons on Monday, a day after a joint team of the Civil Society Women’s Organisation and the People’s Mission blamed Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited for laxity that caused the accident in Mawphlang, Dhar said MeECL was not at fault, but added that the State government would give Rs 6 lakh as compensation to the bereaved family.
However, PS Thangkhiew, MeECL chairman and managing director, told reporters that the compensation amount would be decided after submission of the detailed report. A high-level meeting was held on Monday to discuss the matter.
The senior electrical inspector, to which the report was submitted, will conduct further inquiry. “Within a week we will disburse the amount after the report is submitted,” he said.
Extending condolences to the bereaved family, the CMD said the tragedy is “upsetting and MeECL will look forward to preventing such accidents from recurring”.
Meanwhile, T. Passah, director (distribution) at MePDCL, termed the incident as “rare”.
“When a lightning arrester bursts it usually does not come in contact with metallic objects. However, in this case it was different,” Passah said and added that they are awaiting the report.
On October 27, a 35-year-old woman and her five children died from electrocution in their house at Nongthymmai Neng in Mawphlang block.      Power supply to the village was stopped after the tragedy.
Dhar said on Monday that power supply to the village that has 68 households would be restored soon. The local MLA will lead a delegation of villagers to meet the chief minister on the issue.
On illegal connections, the minister said, “It is a fact that illegal connection of electricity leads to overloading on transformers and it creates faults from time to time.”
Thangkhiew said he has proposed village-level anti-theft committees to the Power Department to check hooking. The process of regularising 772 jugalis has also begun and police verification for the same is on, he added.
Officials in the Power Department have been asked to co-ordinate with all deputy commissioners for organising awareness programmes on illegal connections and safety guidelines. They have also been directed to monitor transformers and find out whether high-tension wires are threatening households.
When asked about the rusty electric poles in the city as well as other parts of the State, the minister said the matter was discussed at Monday’s meeting. “We should earmark fund annually to replace the ageing and rotten poles and we will place the matter before the chief minister,” he added.
A magisterial probe into the incident is on and a report will be submitted in a week’s time. Initial reports indicated that the wiring in the meter box got tangled with the CGI sheet causing electrocution.