Pedestrians Facing Risk due to Bundles of TV Cables Hanging from Electric Poles in City

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Pedestrians Facing Risk due to Bundles of TV/Internet Cables Hanging from Electric Poles in the City

Mangaluru: In the past Mangaluru City Commissioners, Mayors and even the present City Commissioner had promised to take action against hazardous service provider’s cables (TV, Internet, etc, but not electricity lines) posing danger to the public, where the service providers have drawn the cables through electricity poles and on medians. However, they were just promises/assurances made by these authorities, and no action has been taken until now, with commuters facing risk while walking on the footpaths. It is common to see bundles of cables put up to relay cable TV networks to homes hanging from electric poles. One can also see black boxes attached to these cables. Many times these cables snap and fall on the roads thus endangering the lives of road users especially two-wheeler riders as the broken cables can get entangled in the wheels of the vehicles which can lead to accidents.

Cables are also seen tied to the trees along the roads and crisscrossing 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. Cable TV has indeed 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, especially 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 a public nuisance, besides posing threat to life and property.

A broken Slab and hanging Cables on the footpath on KS Rao road near LG Showroom resulted in a college student tripping and getting injured

A couple of days ago, a college student tripped over a broken slab of the footpath, and also got tangled in the cable wires situated right over the broken slab- he was injured and taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. Such accidents take place everywhere, due to these hanging cables, and our dear city officials have turned a blind eye to it. The 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 government property. Besides, non-compliance with safety norms by the unregulated private sector cable network undertakings continuously poses a 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.”

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 for 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 an excess load on the pole, thus resulting in a serious accident”. And it is seen in many places, a 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 the use of poles by either cable TV operators or telecommunication service providers in the interest of the 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 the 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 networks, 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 think 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, 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.

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. It is learnt that due to the pandemic, the demand for Internet services had increased by 50% in Mangaluru. Meanwhile, it is also learnt that MCC wants cable operators to obtain a NOC from it, but that has not happened.

Currently, local cable operators are providing internet and cable services to thousands of houses and business establishments. The small players are already feeling the heat from big players due to competitive pricing. Meanwhile, MCC commissioner Akshay 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.

In January 2021, Mangaluru City Corporation Commissioner Akshay Sridhar during a recent meeting said that the civic body will remove all hazardous service provider’s cables (TV, Internet, etc, but not electricity lines) posing danger to the public, where the service providers have drawn the cables through electricity poles and on medians, after 6 January 2021. Akshay Sridhar has said that the service providers were given time till January 6 to provide details on the overhead cables drawn by them. But that didn’t materialize, as we are still seeing hanging cables from electric poles posing danger to pedestrians, especially those using the footpaths.

MCC Warns Service Providers to Remove Hazardous Cables Posing Danger to Public by 6 Jan

He had told the council of the corporation that the service providers should remove such hanging cables posing danger to pedestrians and vehicles, on their own by 6 January 2021. The civic body will assess later how many of them are authorized and will jump into action. Some service providers, including telecom operators, have tied their cables to the electricity poles without permission from the civic body. They should have obtained no objection from the corporation for them as the hanging cables posed danger to the lives of people in many places. On the other hand, the civic body to has lost revenue as the service providers have drawn their lines free.

In conclusion, as they say, “Seeing Is Believing”, which means you need to see something before you can accept that it occurs. Because we have seen in the past that whatever MCC officials promise to take action on civic issues, it is never done or will take a long time for them to rectify or take action against the offenders. Therefore, it could be in this regard too-until we see action taken by MCC against these service providers, let’s keep our fingers crossed and wait for positive results.

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