Tragedy Strikes: Exposed Power Cables Lead to Loss of Lives in Bajhang

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A 25-year-old farmer in ward 1 of Kedarsyu Rural Municipality died from electrocution after coming in contact with a high-tension power line in his field.

A 25-year-old farmer from Bili in ward 1 of Kedarsyu Rural Municipality was found dead in his wheat field on Saturday night. He had gone to irrigate his field earlier in the day when he got electrocuted by a live wire of a high-tension power line, said police.

The farmer had left his home at around 10 am to irrigate his field from the Dhamirati canal near Chaudambagar in the rural municipality. When he did not return home in the evening, relatives and locals got anxious and started searching for him. They found his body at around 8 pm at Kandwal Hill in Chaudambagar.

Police Inspector Dipesh Chaudhary of the District Police Office reached the spot to investigate the incident. Chaudhary said a preliminary investigation revealed that the man died of electrocution as he got caught in a live wire of a high-tension power line.

“The body had injuries identical to electric burns. A wire from the high-tension power line was hanging low. He seems to have got caught in the wire,” said Chaudhary.

According to Chaudhary, the height of the wire from the ground was 5.9 feet. The deceased was around 6 feet tall.

This is not the first instance of death from electrocution in Kedarsyu Rural Municipality. Earlier in August 2021, a 48-year-old woman from ward 1 died from electrocution when she happened to touch an electric pole of the national transmission line. According to the District Police Office, the woman died when she accidentally touched the electric pole of the national transmission line on the Gajara road in the rural municipality while collecting foliage for cattle.

Incidents of injuries and death of locals from electrocution are becoming increasingly common in Kedarsyu, says Mahindra Saud Bhandari, a 22-year-old local woman from ward 1. Bhandari suffered severe injuries after being electrocuted by a live wire of the national transmission line on the Jaya Prithvi Highway while she was on a tree collecting foliage. The wires of the line were in contact with the green leaves, which are a good conductor of electricity.

“I didn’t know that the wires of the line were touching the leaves of the tree because it was very dense. I received a powerful shock and was thrown off the tree,” said Bhandari. “I was rescued by locals and rushed to a health facility. A month has passed, and I still haven’t been able to recover from the injuries completely.”

In April 2021, a 13-year-old boy from Kapadi village in ward 1 of Kedarsyu, was seriously injured after being electrocuted when he stepped on a wire hanging from an electric pole. Even after years of treatment, he still cannot walk without support.

Dirgha Bhandari, a local school teacher at Betal Secondary School in ward 1 of the rural municipality, said that the national transmission line passes through the ward exposing the locals to electrocution risk. A lack of routine maintenance of electric poles and the haphazard layout of the power lines has further increased the risks further, he said.

“It has been more than three years since such accidents started happening due to the negligence of the Nepal Electricity Authority, and especially the district branch. The derelict electric poles, broken live wires hanging loose and low have increased the risk of electrocution,” said Dirgha. “No one is safe here.”

According to Dirgha, fallen and crooked electric poles in several places of Narugounda and Turasi Jhari settlements in ward 1 of the rural municipality have not been fixed even after six months. Similarly, wires hanging less than 6 feet from the ground in four places in Chaudambagar have also been left unattended by the electricity authorities for a long time. The number of live wires touching the trees is also countless.

Bir Bahadur Bhandari, ward chair of ward 1 of the rural municipality, said that the ward office has requested the Nepal Electricity Authority, Bajhang branch, several times verbally and also sent them a written notice three months ago to fix the wires and poles in the area. But the authority has taken no steps.

“If the Nepal Electricity Authority had fixed the wires or even started working on them, the unfortunate incident on Saturday would not have happened. The locals of the whole ward are living in fear of being electrocuted due to the negligence of the district authorities. If they do not fix the problem soon, we will write to the higher authorities,” said Bir Bahadur.

Officials of the Nepal Electricity Authority in Bajhang deny receiving such requests from ward officials. Sujan Khadka, head of the Nepal Electricity Authority, Bajhang, said that they have not received any request or complaint from anywhere to fix wires and poles in ward 1 of Kedarsyu Rural Municipality.

“This line was built five years ago. There must be some damage and faults in some areas. We are planning to send a technical team as soon as possible and fix everything that could cause injuries to the locals of the area,” said Khadka.

Source: The Kathmandu Post