Underground electricity cabling leaves roads in mess


The underground electricity cabling work in three constituencies – Loutolim, Margao and Fatorda, is almost complete at an estimated cost of Rs 115 crore, by the department of electricity. This project is envisaged to provide hassle-free and uninterrupted power supply to the residents.
However, the ground situation after laying the cables is worrisome and the local people are apprehensive. Reasons: the unleveled and open trenches, the dug roads that have been left open and cable ends left carelessly on the road shoulders that are posing a threat to the road users.
This apart, the short cut methods adopted by the contractors at a few interior places would also have some impact on the system.
The lack of planning and coordination between the department of electricity and PWD also contributed to the delay and incomplete work of the underground cabling project.  
The telephone department was also hit with the unplanned underground cabling of the electricity department.
“Several times they cut and robbed our telephone cables while laying underground cables and we had to file police complaints to get reimbursement for the damage,” said an engineer at the telephone department. 
Sources disclosed that the PWD insisted that the electricity department make advance payment for road digging to lay the underground cables and that slowed down the work at many places. However, the PWD officials, denying this stated that at a few places the electricity department dug the road without even informing them.
“Villagers and citizens will definitely have to pay for the carelessness and callous attitude of these contractors once the rains start falling. If the district administration and the concerned departments fail to take a serious view of this, then there could be a spate of accidents on these muddy roads,” said a senior citizen, Mr Paresh C Naik.
Mr Naik urged the District Collector to take immediate action over this issue.
The one-day unseasonal rain that lashed the state recently provided a glimpse of things to be expected during the monsoons if corrective measures are not taken in time.
The situation is expected to be more severe in the villages where the road has been dug on either side. 
“We have paid the necessary amount to the electricity department for restoring the road to its original condition,” informed a supervisor who is manning the underground cabling work at Raia.
“They will do it,” he declared and refused to give any further information.
The superintend engineer, Mr N N Reddy, when contacted and asked about the restoration of the roads, said that payments have been made wherever works are completed – feeder to feeder.
According to Mr Reddy, the electricity department paid the PWD about ` 8 crore for restoration of roads in Margao areas and said that a little amount remains to be paid.
“We will write to the PWD to allow road digging to complete the work faster. I will also be having a meeting with my junior engineers to know the final position and accordingly survey will be conducted to allow the restoration of roads,” he added.
The PWD executive engineer (roads), Mr V S Mardolkar, disclosed that his office received only ` 4.15 crore for restoration of roads. “Tenders of ` 70 lakh have already been floated in this regard. Each contractor is given works of ` 5 to 10 lakh, so that more contractors would be engaged to complete the work faster in view of the monsoon,” he said and added that no fresh permissions will be issued to the department to dig roads, especially, the highways.
He, however, said that the electricity department may have paid other divisions for restoration works.
It may be recalled that the first 11 KV underground cabling was commenced in the constituency of former power minister, Mr Alex Sequeira, in Loutolim, and later Margao and Fatorda areas were taken up for ` 40 crore and ` 75 crore respectively.
Underground cabling was proposed to replace the 30-year-old electric wires and to reduce the constant power failures and snapping of conductors due to tree falling and provide better services. [NT]