At least 210 people have died over the last nine years from electrocution in the service territory served by the Lahore Electric Supply Corporation (LESCO), revealed an in-depth review of the State of Industry (SOI) Reports published by National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) from 2013 to 2019.
According to the reports, state-owned distribution companies (DISCOs) have recorded the highest number of fatalities, occupying first, second and third positions in quantum of electrocutions in all but two out of nine consecutive years.
LESCO’s safety performance has been the worst of all public and private DISCOs operating in Pakistan with the utility clocking in the top three worst safety rankings in seven out of nine consecutive years with 210 reported electrocutions.
Peshawar Electric Supply Company (PESCO) followed at second place with the poorest rankings in six out of nine years, reporting 187 electrocutions.
The 2018-19 report mentions that “under Section 21, DISCOs are duty-bound to follow the performance standards laid down by the regulatory authority for distribution and transmission of electric power including, safety, health and environmental protection instructions issued by the authority or any governmental agency or the provincial government.
DISCOs are also required to follow NEPRA approved Distribution Codes, which require them to design, implement and operate their systems so that their distribution facilities do not harm human life.
However, the reports do not reveal any substantive efforts undertaken at either the respective DISCO or NEPRA levels to address the long-standing safety issues which have resulted in the electrocution-caused deaths of over 1,400 persons over the period under review, nor have any concrete steps been identified to avert similar incidents in the future.
While there is a passing mention of the investigation undertaken into the electrocutions that occurred in “July, 2019 after heavy rains in Karachi”, no similar efforts have been reported for other DISCOs including LESCO and PESCO.
Faisalabad Electric Supply Corporation (FESCO) reported 183 deaths over nine years, the third highest number of fatalities. However, this DISCO has also shown significant improvement in safety record, progressing from reporting the highest number of electrocutions in 2012-2013 to reporting the second lowest number of electrocutions in both 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 periods.
In contrast, the Islamabad Electric Supply Corporation (IESCO), which operates in a comparatively more planned area, has reported a total of 154 death over the nine year period with a marked decline in safety performance in 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 when it reported the third and second highest numbers of electrocutions respectively.
Hyderabad Electric Supply Corporation (HESCO) was responsible for 169 deaths in its service area, Multan Electric Supply Corporation (MEPCO) for 159 deaths, Sukkur Electric Supply Corporation (SEPCO) for 151 deaths and Gujranwala Electric Supply Corporation (GEPCO) for 126 deaths thus ranking at 4th, 5th, 7th and 9th highest reported electrocution fatalities respectively.
Over the nine year period, Quetta Electric Supply Corporation (QESCO) has reported 87 fatalities, which is the lowest number of all the DISCOs coming in at 10th place.