Gescom negligence blamed for hostel students' death

Gescom negligence blamed for hostel students' death

Basavaraj Fakeerappa Jelli (extreme left), one of the five students electrocuted at BCM hostel in Koppal, had participated in 40-km cycle rally during World Environment Day event on June 5. DH PHOTO

A day after five students were electrocuted at D Devaraj Urs Pre-Matric Hostel in Koppal, it has now emerged that Gescom officials did not act on residents’ memoranda to relocate tray cable and main wire of 11 kV power line.

On October 13, 2014, Ganeshnagar residents had submitted a memorandum (a copy of which is available with DH) to assistant executive engineer, Gescom, requesting measures to relocate tray cable and main wire of the power line which is close to girls’ hostel. They had stated that a woman suffered injuries as she came in contact with a live wire. They had warned that the Gescom would be responsible for untoward incidents in future.

“We submitted the first memorandum on March 17, 2010. Despite several other memoranda, there was no action. We had also sought relocation of the line near the boys’ hostel in Bannikatti area as it could prove fatal for students,” Nagaraj Paragi, a Ganeshnagar resident, told DH.

“Poles on the line are unscientifically installed and transformers are at a lower level increasing chances of electrocution,” he added.

Deputy Commissioner P Sunil Kumar has sought a report on tray cables, power line and electricity-related safety measures in and around government hostels in the district.

Of 128 hostels managed by Backward Classes and Minorities Department in the district, most of them, including four in Koppal town, lack independent buildings.

ZP CEO Raghunandan Murthy told DH that hostels and residential schools in the district would soon have independent buildings.

“I have directed subordinates to take action to prevent such incidents in future,” he said. The department pays a monthly rent of Rs 12,724 to Basanagouda, who owns the building.

Meanwhile, the department has sent the students home on Sunday. It has decided to relocate the hostel to a government building in a week’s time. A total of 60 students stay at the hostel.

Apart from Rs 5 lakh compensation announced by the government, Gescom has decided to pay Rs 5 lakh compensation each to the families of the deceased.

Basavaraj Fakeerappa Jelli (16) of Mukkumpi in Gangavati taluk, one of the victims, was concerned about the environment. He rode a bicycle for 40 kilometres across Koppal on the occasion of Environment Day on June 5 to create awareness about the environment. 

Basavanagouda, Basavaraj Sidlingappa Belwad, the hostel warden and Nagaratna, Gescom section officer, Bannikatti area, obtained the bail in connection with the case.

Meanwhile, various organisations staged a protest seeking stern action against those responsible for the incident. They also sought judicial probe into the incident.  

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