Open boxes, faulty wires leak electricity from billboards, kill people in the rain

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Recent deaths from electrocution due to faulty billboards affixed to medians, bus stations and other public places have sparked the debate on the safety of electrical wires and the preventive measures taken.

While Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom) blamed advertisers and agencies, officials from the Karnataka State Electricity Inspection Department said DH that the accidents could have been avoided if the civic organization had forwarded to them the requests for authorization to install illuminated billboards.

TN Appachu, electrical director for the Karnataka government, attributed the accidents to open boxes and faulty design structures.

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“Open boxes and faulty cables lead to power leakage, especially during rains. The BBMP should require that they provide permission to advertisers only after seeking our approval. Our officials will inspect the board and the design to ensure that such accidents can be avoided,” Appachu said.

Bescom officials said their responsibility ends with providing electrical connections to the boards. “It’s like providing electricity to homes. We cannot decide what security measures they should take. Only the BBMP that gives permission should make sure of that,” said Nagarjuna D, Bescom CTO.

Electricity theft

Electrocution incidents also occur when boards are configured using illegally pulled electrical connections.

“Even in such cases, the advertising company should take responsibility because they are making the connection illegally. This is electricity theft, and our managers are monitoring the incidents to remove the connections and reserve them for violation” , said a senior Bescom official.

Members of the Outdoor Advertising Association of Bangalore said the BBMP’s licensing process for billboards is ambiguous.

“In most places this is allowed under the public-private partnership (PPP) model. It is not clear if we have taken the necessary approvals.

“The Karnataka Municipal Corporations (KMC) Act 1976 defines the procedure and standards for lighting and electricity allowed, but many (rules) are neglected,” said Manmohan Singh, secretary of the Association of Bangalore outdoor advertising.

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BBMP Chief Commissioner Tushar Girinath dismissed claims that the civic body is following publicity policies.

“Advertising is prohibited except in a few plans. It is only where there is a capital investment that we allow billboards under the PPP model and only these are given permission,” a- he declared.

BBMP sources said the signs are not regularly inspected to ensure safety measures are in place.

Lack of insulation

Experts said electrocutions occur during rains and floods. “Electricity tends to flow through water due to faulty cables during floods, and increases the risk of accidents,” Appachu said.

Lack of insulation could be another reason. “Wires may have frayed resulting in current leakage. Also, weak seals and poor maintenance may increase the danger during rains,” Nagarjuna said.

Recent accidents

Last week, a 23-year-old woman was electrocuted to death when she touched a faulty billboard in Siddapura during rains.

In May, a 35-year-old man died of electrocution after touching a wire run to power a billboard at the Hebbal bus stop.

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