[Answered] The increasing rate of electrical accidents requires immediate attention. Examine the factors behind such accidents and also suggest some policy measures to prevent them.

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Explain some factors behind electrical accidents. Also suggest some policy measures to prevent them.
Conclusion: Write a way forward.

As per the data from the National Crime Records Bureau, the number of fatalities and rate of deaths (per lakh population) due to electric shocks and fires has been steadily increasing over the years. From 2,957 deaths and 0.36 deaths per lakh population in 1990, it has increased to 15,258 deaths and 1.13 deaths per lakh population in 2020.

Factors behind such accidents:

  • Geographically, most of the electrical accidents appear to be taking place in rural areas.
  • In electrical terms, most accidents occur in the distribution system and at non-industrial consumer locations.
  • Electrocution due to accidental contact with live conductors is the immediate cause for accidents in a majority of cases. The reason could be snapping or sagging of conductors, or exposed switch boards at low heights.
  • The other reason is fire due to electrical faults, which accounts for around 12% of the accidents.
  • Poor design, construction, inadequate maintenance, inadequate protection systems and lack of safety awareness are some of the root causes.

Measures:

  • It appears that over 90% of the people who die due to electrical accidents are the general public. Hence, any attempt to reduce such accidents must include the safety of general public as a top priority.
  • There should be a mechanism to ensure that electricity utilities are following the safety regulations prepared by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA). .
  • Distribution companies should have enough safety officers and conduct periodic safety audits.
  • Increase the number of electrical inspectors in States as they are expected to approve connections, provide licences to electricians and conduct enquiries on accidents.
  • The implementation of the current safety regulatory regime can be significantly tightened through better data collection, strengthening safety institutions, developing safety metric for distribution companies, involving public and professionals in safety initiatives and utilising technological innovations.

The need of the hour is a national programme to reduce electrical accidents in the distribution sector, with clear scope of work, sufficient resource allocation and robust monitoring and verification mechanism. States could identify districts which have reported high accidents in the past few years and make a programme to reduce accidents.

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