If the power distribution companies stretch any hightension wire over a constructed house and a person living in the house comes in contact with the wire and dies, the companies cannot shirk their responsibility of paying compensation.
This was ruled by Assembly speaker Ishwardas Rohani during discussions on a call attention motion brought by BJP MLA from Indore, Sudarshan Gupta, on Tuesday. Gupta alleged that several people had died after coming in contact with high-tension wires running through residential colonies in Indore as well as Bhopal. A death had taken place on December 26, 2012 in Chandmari ka Bhatta area in Indore. The victim was whitewashing the boundary wall on the second floor when he came in contact with a live wire.
In Indore, he said, high-tension wires were passing over many houses posing a threat to people’s lives.
Similarly, he said, a man died in Ambedkar Nagar, Bhopal on December 4, 2012. He sighted several other incidents of similar nature.
He said whereas houses were being constructed in violation of rules due to apathy of the administration, the energy department too was careless. The high-tension wires should be placed at a safe distance from houses.
In his reply, the energy minister Rajendra Shukla washed his hand of these deaths saying that the department was not responsible for the same.
He said the power companies ensured vertical and horizontal distance of the high-tension lines under Electricity Act, 2003. If any house was to be constructed (under the lines) or any construction was being done in any house (under the lines) the house owner must inform the power distribution company. In such a scenario, the power company would shift the line but the expenses would have to be borne by the house owner.
He said in the Indore case the high-tension line was laid seven to eight years ago while the house was constructed recently, about three to four years ago. As for the case in Bhopal, he added, first a kutcha house was converted into a pucca house and then a balcony was constructed illegally. A notice had been issued to the house owner on violation of rules. The power distribution companies couldn’t be held responsible for deaths that occur in such circumstances and they were not liable for paying any compensation to the deceased’s families.
Speaker Ishwardas Rohani agreed with the minister but ruled that if any house was already constructed and the high- tension lines were stretched over it the power distribution companies couldn’t escape the responsibility of providing compensation. In other cases where the deaths took place due to negligence of the deceased the minister should try to give compensation on humanitarian ground.