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December 11, 2019

Nepra imposes Rs50m penalty on K-Electric


December 11, 2019

ISLAMABAD: National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) has slapped a fine of Rs50 million on Karachi Electric Limited (KEL) and also directed the company to complete by April 2020 the earthing and grounding of its distribution system and carry out its third party verification.

The regulator noted that on July 29-31, 2019 and August 10-12, 2019, Karachi experienced heavy rainfall in which scores of people lost their lives due to electrocution and the supply remained suspended for long durations. In view of forging, the Authority initiated formal investigation to ascertain the facts and causes of fatalities and determine whether any violation of Nepra laws has been committed by KEL.

Investigation revealed among other violations of terms and conditions of KEL’s licence and Nepra laws that 19 fatalities occurred due to lack of earthing of LT/HT poles and leakage of current from the distribution facilities of KEL. Therefore, the Authority decided to initiate legal proceedings against KEL and a show cause notice was issued to KEL under Section-27B and Section 28 of the Nepra Act, 1997. KEL was also given an opportunity of hearing. Based on the evidence available on the record, submissions of KEL and relevant provisions of the laws the Authority passed an order on December 09, 2019.

In the order, the Authority has observed that KEL has failed to discharge its statutory obligation to maintain safety standards and ensure that distribution facilities do not cause leakage of current. Design of distribution network of KEL does not meet the design requirements as laid down in the relevant code and manual. Moreover, KEL allowed telephone/TV/internet cable operators to use its distribution network in a hazardous manner for their purposes. Further, KEL failed to report fatalities immediately after occurrence to the Authority in a prescribed manner and also failed to restore supply of electricity within the prescribed time limits.

The Authority has also directed to complete its internal investigation and fix the responsibilities on its employees/management and submit its final report.

The Authority has also considered the submissions of KEL to give reasonable compensation to bereaved families in good faith and that details of such compensation paid to families of victims shall be shared with the Authority in due course of time. Nepra has required KEL to fulfil its commitments to provide compensation to bereaved families at the earliest and in this regard provide documentary evidence to the Authority.

Meanwhile, in response to NEPRA’s fine imposed on K-Electric, the power utility issued a statement saying that it will submit a review with NEPRA regarding the recent decision on the unfortunate incidents in Karachi.

The power utility will review the report in detail and submit an appropriate reply. K-Electric is a law-abiding and responsible organization which ensures compliance with all respective regulations and guidelines and is committed to providing safe and reliable power supply to its customers.

There are a number of primary and underlying external factors which compromise the integrity of the power infrastructure. These include illegal kundas, unauthorized use of power infrastructure by cable TV and internet service providers and standing water around electricity infrastructure. These factors bypass electrical safety mechanisms thus creating public safety hazards. KE feels that these factors warrant serious attention. The threat to public safety and increased accidents due to these factors are well-acknowledged in this region resulting in multiple drives to remove them from the power infrastructure.

One example is to shift these cables underground. Pursuant to the urban flooding caused by unprecedented rains, KE filed a constitutional petition in the High Court of Sindh, in October, 2019. The petition cited as respondents, cable TV and Internet companies, the city administration, municipal bodies and concerned regulators. KE asserted that the power infrastructure was continuously being encroached upon by cable TV providers, and internet service providers. The power utility has requested that city administration and relevant civic bodies ensure that action is taken against encroachments in Karachi.

KE has highlighted other vital components including swift drainage of rainwater around power infrastructure and support in combatting illegal connections and unwarranted use of the infrastructure.

KE continues to regularly conduct kunda-removal drives across the city and this year alone removed more than 200,000 kilograms of kundas. KE has initiated a net-work-wide study by a certified third-party contractor to identify opportunities for infrastructure improvement to further strengthen both reliability and safety of power supply. This includes grounding of electricity poles and clearing the power infrastructure of cable TV and Internet wires.

The power utility has written to commissioner Karachi, chairman PEMRA, requesting that necessary measures be taken before the next monsoons to prevent water-logging and enable the power utility to provide the best service possible.

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