KE asked to work out electrocution deaths compensation

Updated August 10, 2019


CEO denies deaths were caused due to utility provider's negligence. — APP/File
CEO denies deaths were caused due to utility provider's negligence. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: The National Electric Regulatory Authority (Nepra) has asked the K-Electric to work out compensation for families of the victims who lost their lives by electric shocks during recent rains due to non-observance of standard operating procedures (SOPs) and ensure effective remedial measures ahead of the second round of anticipated downpour this weekend.

The regulator has also directed the Karachi-based private power utility to submit a report on each death and injury caused by electrocution on July 29 and 30 with reasons and who was responsible for the negligence. The KE management has been told that casualties due to electric shocks could not be condoned in any circumstances and the company would have to be answerable even if it decides to declare force majeure.

Informed sources told Dawn that a fact-finding team of the regulator that visited Karachi after recent accidents had found that the utility had not followed SOPs for such emergency situations which could have minimised the losses. The team also made observations regarding the KE and submitted its preliminary report to Nepra which called the chief executive officer and his team at the KE for explanation in person.

CEO denies deaths were caused due to utility’s faults/negligence

On the basis of responses by the KE team to certain questions by the Nepra chairman and his team, the utility has been given additional instructions and queries. Nepra would conclude its final report along with regulatory actions, the sources said. Another high-level Nepra team led by one of its four members will visit Karachi soon after Eidul Azha to verify the preliminary report of the regulator’s fact-finding team and KE’s responses.

The sources said the KE chief executive officer had challenged the common view that 19 to 20 deaths had been caused due to the company’s faults/negligence. He is reported to have told the regulator during personal appearance that some of the deaths occurred in housing societies where the KE has no service or jurisdiction, while some other casualties happened inside houses for which the KE cannot be held accountable or expected to pay.

The KE management also explained to the regulator that it was in the process of submitting a report to declare force majeure within 14 days as required under certain clauses of Nepra rules and regulations.

Nepra said in a statement that “a team of Karachi Electric headed by CEO appeared before the Nepra authority” and explained their position with respect to failure of power supply and fatal accidents due to electrocution during the recent torrential rain on July 29 and 30 . “The directions were given to take effective remedial measures to save human lives at any cost and ensure continuous supply in view of the expected downpour in the next few days,” the statement said.

“Further directions were given to consider compensation to the families of the victims, who lost their lives due to electric shocks,” said the regulator.

KE spokesperson Khayyam Siddiqi said the unprecedented rains and urban flooding in Karachi had disrupted civic amenities and services and caused a number of incidents and the utility was extending cooperation to various stakeholders in the process of rectifying the situation. It will submit a detailed report to the regulatory authority in due course. “The management and employees of the KE are deeply grieved over these unfortunate incidents and extend deepest sympathies to the affected families, he said.

As per various studies, the spokesperson said, a large part of Karachi was unplanned and included encroachments in different areas. These slums and encroachments are infested with kundas despite multiple drives launched to remove these illegal power connections and reports on encroachments given to law enforcement agencies.

Published in Dawn, August 10th, 2019