Damaged electricity poles and overhead power transmission lines dangling dangerously pose a grave risk to a lot of people from nearby villages who visit the town, being the district headquarters, besides the residents themselves. “What would happen if these old and decrepit poles carrying 11,000 to 22,000 kW loads collapse? Just one tragic incident can cause several casualties.
But neither the district administration nor the electricity department appears to be worried over the large number of damaged poles that need to be replaced immediately. Is the department waiting for a tragedy to occur?” asked Lakshmender Guleria, president of the Mandi Bachao Sangharsh Morcha, a local NGO.
He added most of the damaged electrical poles are in thickly populated areas of the town. “These areas are crowded with people round the clock and if a pole suddenly collapses no one can prevent casualties,” he said.
Surprisingly, the electricity department is undertaking repair and replacement work for the past one and a half years and, instead of coming up with an alternative solution to the problem, it is putting extra load on these damaged electricity poles.
Guleria noted a few state government ministers who were from Mandi district and owned a house in the town had repeatedly announced that the government had decided to lay underground cables in the area to make Mandi town a “pole free” area in order to attract more tourists and generate employment. “But the ministers forgot the government's commitment and, surprisingly, they never objected to the extra power load being put on age old poles,” he added.
Meanwhile, HP State Electricity Board chief engineer Suresh Kumar Goel said most of the board's executive engineers were aware about the problem. “As soon as the matter was brought to my knowledge I instructed the executive engineers concerned to ascertain the facts and replace electricity poles that were damaged,” he added.
He, however, said there was no proposal at present for laying underground cables in the town. “The government had earlier decided to lay underground cables in the Chauhatta Bazaar area but the local municipal council was supposed to provide trench for the purpose. However, this was never done,” he added.