Kalbadevi fire: Age-old cables, BEST staff crunch keep nine buildings in the dark

May 12, 2015, 07:50 IST | Shashank Rao

Officials from the undertaking say that it will take at least a week to give a permanent power connection to the nine buildings that have been in the dark since Saturday’s fire in Gokul Niwas

Two days after a blaze gutted the 50-year-old, four-storeyed Gokul Niwas in Kalbadevi on Saturday, the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) workers who went to restore the electricity connection were seen cursing the age-old cables, which are at least as old as the building itself.

Two firemen had lost their lives in the blaze, which was reportedly triggered by a short-circuit.
Two firemen had lost their lives in the blaze, which was reportedly triggered by a short-circuit. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi 

One of the workers said a network of old power cables is spread across Kalbadevi, Bhuleshwar and the neighbouring areas. He said the cables are very tough to replace and the narrow lanes just make the job harder.

Commenting on the restoration of power supply to the nine buildings surrounding Gokul Niwas that were plunged into darkness after the mishap, a BEST official said, “We will be providing the residents with a temporary connection by the night of May 11. These lines will be connected to the nearby junction boxes, from where they will draw electricity.”

Though the BEST officials want to restore the power supply at their earliest, the civic authorities have asked them to wait until the debris is removed from the site. It was learnt that a JCB that was pressed into action to clear the rubble had uprooted an important junction box and cables supplying electricity.

“Lanes here are extremely narrow. Executing trenching work and laying new cables is an uphill task. It will take at least a week to provide the residents with a permanent connection,” said a BEST official. A few officials also stressed on the need for immediate redevelopment of the area, as it is congested.

High load
Sources in the BEST said that congested locations like Kalbadevi have several connections, which increase the load tremendously. Officials claim that the load for the entire Kalbadevi area, which also has offices and markets, could be around 25 megawatt a day.

Staff crunch
Manpower shortage at the BEST administration has hampered the power supply restoration work. Sources claimed that the position of chief engineers in-charge of maintenance and additional general manager for electric supply are lying vacant. Besides, there are over 200 vacancies across the supply division.

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