Karachi, Oct 08, 2019: K-Electric has initiated legal proceedings against the unauthorized use of electricity poles by cable TV and Internet providers. The action is part of an ongoing campaign to rid the city’s power infrastructure of such encroachments which are not only unwarranted but also pose a severe risk to the safe and reliable supply of electricity as well as to the lives of the residents of the city.
In a Constitutional petition filed in the High Court of Sindh today, which includes as respondents, cable TV and Internet companies, the city administration, municipal bodies and concerned regulators, KE has submitted that the power infrastructure is continuously being infringed upon and encroached by cable TV providers and Internet companies. The power utility further submitted that cables and other equipment mounted on electricity poles are at times live and are capable of transmitting up to 400 volts. Furthermore, these cables are installed without adhering to the applicable electrical safety mechanisms and the current through them passes to the poles and other downstream infrastructure, creating a severe hazard for the public as well as for the employees of the power utility.
While the power utility removes cables and wires from electricity poles as a matter of routine, the entire exercise gained intensity and picked up pace during the recent rains when KE published a public notice cautioning cable operators and Internet providers to remove their paraphernalia or face legal action. The operators were given a deadline to remove their equipment, which expired on August 19, this year. However, no action to remove the equipment was taken by the operators.
It is essentially the job of the city administration and other civic bodies to ensure that Karachi is made free from encroachments, be it on the ground or on electricity infrastructure, which also includes unsafe street-light switches, and also to ensure that electricity installations are free from water-logging. In the absolute interest of the citizens of Karachi, KE has been engaging with all concerned stakeholders so that they recognize their due role in providing an enabling environment for the power utility to operate by enforcing basic urban development protocols in a planned manner across the city and to eliminate the issue of encroachments, illegal connections, unwarranted use of the infrastructure and water-logging around power infrastructure during and after rain. However, despite repeated requests by the power utility, in the form of letters and public appeals, they have so far failed to perform their duty.
This misuse of electricity poles jeopardizes the integrity of the electricity system, which also impedes routine operations, hinders maintenance efforts and bypasses electrical safety mechanisms thus creating severe public safety hazards. As per recent investigations, these unwarranted TV and Internet cables and switches for streetlights installed on electric poles have been found to be the underlying cause of numerous incidents and fatal accidents that have taken place in the city in the recent past. However, due to the general misconception that Internet and TV cables are not energized, they are not held accountable for their role in electrocution incidents and thus the safety of Karachi’s citizens continues to be placed at risk.
The inaction of the respondents has led to the creation of an unsafe environment which has jeopardized the integrity of the electricity system and created public safety hazards which have led to various accidents including fatal ones. As such the power utility has filed a Petition before the Honorable Court in the hope that strict directions to concerned authorities to perform their duties effectively will result in due action in the larger interest of the public.