Bundles of TV Cables Hanging from Electric Poles Pose Danger to Pedestrians

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Bundles of TV Cables Hanging from Electric Poles Pose Danger to Pedestrians

Mangaluru: It is common to see bundles of cables put up to relay cable TV networks to the homes hanging from electric poles. One can also see black boxes attached to these cables. Many a times these cables snap and fall on the roads thus endangering the lives of road users specially the two-wheeler riders as the broken cables can get entangled to the wheels of the vehicles which can lead to accidents.

Cables are also seen tied to the trees along the roads and crisscross from one building to another. The problem arises when these cables snap and fall on the road. The cables also give a sore sight to the city as large bundles of these black cables along with boxes are seen hanging from electric poles. It is true that cable TV has brought entertainment and information into our homes. But then, it is also necessary for the cables to pass in an orderly manner so as not to endanger the lives of the citizens, specially the road users.

With the failure of the MESCOM electricity department to hammer out a solution to the illegal, arbitrary and unauthorized use of the department’s poles by cable television operators to provide satellite channels in the City, the overhanging wires continue to create public nuisance, besides posing threat to life and property.

Lack of any regulatory authority combined with the government’s lethargy to impose restrictions on the reckless use of poles or levy fines on the erring operators has led to the rampant misuse of the government property. Besides, non-compliance of safety norms by the unregulated private sector cable network undertakings continuously pose grave danger to life and property.

Describing the danger to life on account of the haphazard pulling of wires over electric poles, one electrical engineer speaking to Team Mangalorean said , “Danger arises when the television cable and the live electricity cable, which run simultaneously over the pole, come in contact with each other. Several operators do not comply with safety standards. They should make use of insulated messenger wires. Instead they lay GI or metallic wires which are good conductors of electricity. The danger is aggravated especially when high tension conductors snap. Snapping of power lines may be at a far distance but since the television cable runs on the particular line which has snapped, the person handling the gadget at home may be electrocuted due to transmission of direct supply. And sometimes, such electric shocks are fatal in nature.”

Besides, the unsystematic network of wires creates a nuisance to the electricity staff while dealing with breakdowns, he added. “Many times the operators conveniently tie amplifiers to the poles for better reception. However, this causes major hassles to MESCOM staff whose work of identifying faults gets delayed, ultimately leading to public outcry. Linesmen first need to remove the amplifiers and ease out the web of wires to finally get down to work. The laying of the cable may result in excess load on the pole, thus resulting in a serious accident”. And it is seen in many places, few electric poles have tilted sideways due to the excess load of these TV Cables. Has anyone from MESCOM or MCC noticed it?

Nonetheless, the District Administration or MCC officials need to formulate a policy to restrict use of poles by either cable TV operators or telecommunication service providers in the interest of safety of the public. Seems like with a bunch of these loose TV Cables hanging on to the electric poles,there has never been any concrete consensus drawn to ease MESCOM poles of the web of wires of the operators despite the grave danger the wires pose to Mescom staff and public at large.

Sources reveal that though rules 86 and 87 of the Indian Electricity Rules, 1956, state that usage or leasing out electricity poles for cable TV network, especially as far as the Central Verge is concerned, even if it is being used for a limited purpose of crossing from one colony to another colony, is not permissible as per rules, experts believe that lack of an electricity regulatory commission in the State, is a major hurdle in clamping down on erring operators. Notwithstanding public outcry over the issue and the frequent disconnection of their cables by electricity linesmen, most cable operators have failed to lay their cables underground., because underground cabling is expensive, time-consuming and a major operation which needs cooperation from all dealers, as per a TV cable operator.

Nevertheless, concerned citizens are of the opinion that the government should initiate a crackdown as such use of poles is a gross violation of rules. Even though the local service providers have tied up with Mescom to provide Internet connections using electricity poles, but for the safety of the public, the electricity department should proceed with immediate removal, confiscation of the cable TV installed on such HT poles, towers, central verge poles and LT poles, as the department reserves its right to take appropriate legal action against such defaulters for non-compliance of its orders.

It is pertinent to note that Section 53 of Electricity Act, 2003, inter-Alia requires the central authority to make regulations in consultation with the state government regarding protecting the public from dangers arising from generation, transmission or distribution or trading of electricity. The said section also provides for action to be taken in relation to any electric line or electric plant or any electric appliance under the control of the consumer for the purpose of eliminating or reducing risk of personal injury or damage of property or interference with its use.

But sources reveal that more than 100 cable operators here are worried as Mangaluru City Corporation (MCC) is hinting at laying underground cables as part of its Smart City projects. Currently, most local internet and cable TV service providers have tied up with Mescom to provide Internet connections through electricity poles. And in case MCC decides to clear the cables overnight or without providing an alternative, many local cable operators will be hit hard. With the pandemic, the demand for Internet services has increased by 50% in Mangaluru, it is learnt. Meanwhile, it is also learnt that MCC wants cable operators to obtain a NOC from it.

Currently, local cable operators are providing internet and cable services to nearly 15,000 houses and business establishments. The small players are already feeling the heat from big players due to competitive pricing. Meantime, MCC commissioner Akshy Sridhar speaking to a reporter had said , “We have not given any such directions, but we have been considering providing ducts for all such cables”. But no matter what, the way these TV cables are hanging from the electric poles is dangerous to pedestrians, especially after dark.

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