The death of two minor girls -- 13-year-old Anushka Nandi from Bandhab Nagar Colony and 12-year-old Sneha Banik from the Motijheel area -- who were electrocuted after coming in contact with an electric pole, a portion of which was submerged in a waterlogged area, has exposed the state government's inability to protect lives from unsafe and faulty electric supply system.
In the last two days, 13 people died of electrocution in the waterlogged streets of Kolkata and its adjoining areas.
"There are many open ends of wires inside the uncovered boxes at the base of electric lamp posts. When the streets are waterlogged, these live wires remain submerged under the water and the posts become electrified. People -- unaware of this -- touch the lamppost and get electrocuted," an official of the state electric supply corporation said.
That was the case of Anuska and Sneha. Anushka inadvertently touched an electric pole while crossing a waterlogged street, Sneha, too, got electrocuted while trying to save her friend. The minors, both students of Class 6, were rushed to the state-run RG Kar Medical Hospital, but were declared dead on arrival.
The death of the duo is not an isolated example. On Wednesday evening, Deepak Chowdhury (65) got electrocuted in the waterlogged streets in the Agarpara-Tarapukur area in North 24 Parganas district. He had accidentally touched an exposed electrical wire submerged in the waterlogged street in front of his house.
On Tuesday, three residents of the same family died at Khardah in North 24 Parganas district -- Raja Das, his wife Poulomi Das and their son Subho Das -- died after they touched the electric pole in an effort to support themselves while crossing the road.
Senior Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy visited the bereaved families of the minor girls on Thursday and announced financial assistance of Rs 2 lakh each. However, Anushka's mother refused to accept the compensation amount, saying they were willing to pay Rs 4 lakh to the government instead, if it would bring her daughter back.
Minister for Power Arup Biswas did not make any comment on the issue.
An official of the state power department on condition of anonymity claimed that generally, the department takes precautions before every monsoon. "This year we took precautions. But at certain places, there was excessive rainfall without any forecast. But we are trying to stop such mishaps. But people will also have to be careful," he said.
The death of 13 people has triggered political controversy as well. Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari asked the CESC to give Rs 50 lakh each to the families of the victims. The Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation (CESC) is a private body that is solely responsible for supplying power to Kolkata and suburbs.
"The Chief Minister has given charges of electricity to private bodies who are not bothered about anything. The CESC has crores of turnover and they should give 50 lakh rupees to the affected and Mamata Banerjee should offer them a job and apologise in public," said Suvendu.
BJP national vice president Dilip Ghosh said that the people should be aware and also the Trinamool Congress government will make up several alibis just to hide their 'incapability'.
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