Did you permit installation of transformers? HC to BBMP

Did you permit transformers to be installed on footpaths? HC asks BBMP

Representative image. Credit: iStock photo.

The Karnataka High Court on Friday directed the Palike to take a clear stand on whether it permitted the Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom) to install transformers on footpaths.

The direction was passed on a PIL asking for the removal of transformers located on or below the footpaths.

A division bench headed by Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka directed the BBMP to file a specific response particularly regarding the footpaths mentioned in the petition.

Filed by G B Athri, a retired IAF wing commander, the petition claimed that electrical installations on roads and footpaths pose grave danger to human lives and also amount to human rights violation.

Recalling an earlier order while dealing with potholes, the court observed that if footpaths are obstructed, it may affect the fundamental rights of pedestrians. The bench cited a 2015 order in which the BBMP had been asked to keep the footpaths in the city clean for the benefit of pedestrians.

On the issue of obtaining prior permission, the counsel representing Bescom submitted that the installation of transformers is carried out under the provisions of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 and under the Electricity Act, 2003.

In an affidavit, Bescom said of 8,659 distribution transformer centres on roads/footpaths across the city, 4,035 are found to be causing hindrance to the public. The power company also stated that 3,196 of the transformers have been
replaced with new design transformers as of March 30, 2020.

The bench said Bescom did not place anything on record to clarify if it had considered the safety of footways users before installing the transformers.

Observing that the BBMP has control over the footways, the court sought from the civic body if it issued prior permission to install the transformers. The next hearing has been posted to March 4, 2021.