Questions raised over collapse of NTDC towers in Sindh

Published April 25, 2022
DADU: NTDC Managing Director Manzoor Ahmed inspecting the damaged tower of Dadu-Shikarpur transmission lines 
on Sunday.—Dawn
DADU: NTDC Managing Director Manzoor Ahmed inspecting the damaged tower of Dadu-Shikarpur transmission lines on Sunday.—Dawn

LAHORE: Various mega towers of the 500kV Dadu-Shikarpur (Circuit-II) transmission lines collapsed after a recent heavy windstorm adversely affected the National Transmission & Despatch Company (NTDC) system in the area.

“This incident took place due to windstorm last week and it also caused power disruption in various parts of Sindh,” an official source told Dawn on Sunday.

“It also caused a massive fire in the area, killing nine people and burning 75 houses,” he added.

However, the official sources say that substandard material, faulty design and inadequate tests related to strength, resistance and other reasons have caused collapse of the towers and similar incidents in Sindh.

“Generally, such incidents happen due to windstorm, cyclone, etc. But the substandard material is also among the other reasons. And the NTDC management must investigate the possibility of this factor too,” says another source. He said the repair of towers also costs heavily whenever such incidents occur.

Substandard material, faulty design and inadequate tests seen behind collapse; NTDC spokesperson rejects possibility of poor work, low-quality material

“The repair cost generally ranges between Rs10 million and Rs15 million made under the emergency repairs head used by the officers concerned,” the official source added.

He added that whenever such towers were manufactured, the engineering experts were supposed to assess their capacity or strength to resist such windstorms. “But I don’t know why these towers don’t have certain required force/strength to absorb such windstorms in Pakistan,” he wondered.

Seven towers of the same transmission line had collapsed in May, 2017, which were made operational on June 6.

This transmission line was one of the three 500kV lines which were affected due to force majeure (high intensity cyclone) and damaged 16 towers on May 21, 2017.

The damaged towers of two other lines — 500kV Jamshoro-Dadu and 500kV Dadu-Guddu had also been rehabilitated side by side with the 500kV Dadu-Shikarpur line in 2017.

Later in May last year, five towers of 500kV Jamshoro-Port Qasim and two towers of 500kV Dadu-Jamshoro line also collapsed due to windstorm that led to a power breakdown in various parts of Sindh.

NTDC spokesperson

A spokesperson for the NTDC rejected the possibility of using substandard material in manufacturing these towers or in the civil works. “It is not true that our transmission line towers are substandard, having meager strength to face such windstorms. It is absolutely incorrect,” he said.

He said the heavy wind and storm (tornado) caused damage to two towers of 500kV Dadu-Shikarpur transmission line. “The NTDC teams were mobilised immediately and rehabilitation work was completed within the shortest possible time,” he said, adding that this transmission line had been constructed in 1995.

Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2022

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