Islamabad              -          NEPRA has imposed fine of Rs 50 million on Karachi Electric Limited (KEL) for violations of license terms/the regulator’s laws and directed to complete earthing and grounding of its distribution system by April 2020.

NEPRA has also directed KEL to carry out third party verification of its distribution system, said a spokesman of the Regulatory Authority here.

On July 29-31, 2019 and August 10-12, 2019, Karachi experienced heavy rain fall. Scores of people lost their lives due to electrocution and the supply remained suspended for long durations. The Authority initiated formal investigation to ascertain the facts and causes of fatalities and determine whether any violation of NEPRA laws has been committed by KEL, said the spokesman.

Investigation revealed among other violations of terms and conditions of KEL’s license and NEPRA laws that 19 fatalities occurred due to lack of earthing of LT/HT poles and leakage of current from the distribution facilities of KEL. Therefore, the Authority decided to initiate legal proceedings against KEL and a Show Cause Notice was issued to KEL under Section 27B and Section 28 of the NEPRA Act, 1997. KEL was also given an opportunity of hearing. Based on the evidence available on the record, submissions of KEL and relevant provisions of the laws the Authority passed an order on 09-12-19.

In the Order the Authority has observed that KEL has failed to discharge its statutory obligation to maintain safety standards and ensure that distribution facilities do not cause leakage of current. Design of distribution network of KEL does not meet the design requirements as laid down in the relevant Code and Manual. Moreover, KEL allowed telephone/TV/internet cable operators to use its distribution network in a hazardous manner for their purposes. Further, KEL failed to report fatalities immediately after occurrence to the Authority in a prescribed manner and also failed to restore supply of electricity within the prescribed time limits.

The Authority has imposed fine of 50 million rupees on KEL and directed to complete earthing and grounding of its distribution system by April 2020 and carry out third party verification of its distribution system. Also, KEL has been directed to complete its internal investigation and fix the responsibilities on its employees/management and submit its final report to the authority. 

The Authority has also considered the submissions of KEL to give reasonable compensation to bereaved families in good faith and that details of such compensation paid to families of victims shall be shared with the Authority in due course of time. The Authority has required KEL to fulfill its commitments to provide compensation to bereaved families at the earliest and in this regard provide documentary evidence to the Authority.

Meanwhile a spokesman of K-Electric said that the company will submit a review with NEPRA regarding the recent decision on the unfortunate incidents in Karachi. The power utility will review the report in detail and submit an appropriate reply. K-Electric is a law-abiding and responsible organization which ensures compliance with all respective regulations and guidelines and is committed to providing safe and reliable power supply to its customers.

There are a number of primary and underlying external factors which compromise the integrity of the power infrastructure. These include illegal kundas, unauthorized use of power infrastructure by cable TV and internet service providers and standing water around electricity infrastructure. These factors bypass electrical safety mechanisms thus creating public safety hazards. KE feels that these factors warrant serious attention. The threat to public safety and increased accidents due to these factors are well-acknowledged in this region resulting in multiple drives to remove them from the power infrastructure. One example is to shift these cables underground.

Pursuant to the urban flooding caused by unprecedented rains, KE filed a Constitutional petition in the High Court of Sindh in October, 2019. The petition cited as respondents, cable TV and Internet companies, the city administration, municipal bodies and concerned regulators. KE asserts that the power infrastructure is continuously being encroached upon by cable TV providers, and internet service providers. The power utility has requested that city administration and relevant civic bodies ensure that action is taken against encroachments in Karachi. KE has highlighted other vital components including swift drainage of rainwater around power infrastructure and support in combating illegal connections and unwarranted use of the infrastructure.