As many as 400 casual labourers of Power Development Department (PDD) have died due to electrocution in J&K during the past 10 years, revealed the official data.
“On an average, three casual labourers die every month due to electrocution while repairing faults and carrying repair and maintenance of the high tension wires,” said a senior official.
He said Budgam district has recorded most of the electrocution cases followed by Kathua, Rajouri, Bandipora and Sopore.
The official blamed non-adherence to the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the rise in the deaths of casual laborers.
“The fault lies with the staff which doesn’t follow the SOPs in letter and spirit,” the official said, adding the incidents have also risen due to miscommunication between the employees and lack of supervision from senior staff.
Another official said the labourers who died mostly belong to the lower strata of the society and their families suffer after their death.
“The casual labourers don’t come under SRO 43 and hence after their death, the families face tough times to make both ends meet,” the official said.
He narrated tales of several families who were left in lurch after their sole bread earners died. The official said around 9,000 casual labourers were working in the PDD.
“These casual labourers also don’t come under any of the welfare schemes of the department, which are mostly for the permanent staff. They also don’t get any compensation from the government after any untoward incident,” he said.
The official said scores of employees have also lost their limbs while undertaking repairs and maintenance of the transmission network.
“These employees have been rendered jobless and left at the mercy of their families,” he said, adding the government has failed to come up with a comprehensive policy to rehabilitate them.
The official said J&K has the highest electrocution cases across the country. He said lack of supervision by the senior staff has also led to rise in these cases.
“There have been instances wherein senior officials were found absent at the incident spot,” he said.
Director PDD training wing, Muhammad Yusuf Baba said they were lacking training institute for imparting orientation to the casual laborers before sending them to the field.
He said the department had sent a detailed proposal to Union Ministry of Power for opening up an institute each in both divisions of Jammu and Kashmir.
“We are still awaiting nod from the Ministry for establishing these institutes,” he said.
PDD Chief Engineer, Aijaz Ahmad Dar said the accidents happen because of the safety lapses including “restoring power supply during repairing work owing to the pressure from people.”
However, Dar said he directed for strict implementation of all the SOPs. “I have given strict orders to employees to follow the safety protocols while repairing live wires,” Aijaz said.