Goleng villagers want naked conductors removed

Electricity: Following the death of a villager not long ago, villagers of Goleng in Zhemgang are urging the Bhutan Power Corporation (BPC) to replace the naked aluminum conductors with  (aerial bundled conductors) ABC conductors.

The naked conductors, villagers said, are not safe as it passes through their orchard and fields. The villager was charred to death on the spot after a short circuit sparked a fire when he was untangling the post from the naked conductor.

While the deceased met with the fatal accident in the forest, Goleng villagers are wary of similar naked conductors crisscrossing above houses and orchards in the village.

“The live wires poses risks to every villager and children since the naked conductors passes through fields, orchards and bamboos whose braches are often coming in contact with the wires,” Goleng tshogpa, Ugyen Penjor said.

“Even a bird perching on the conductor is causing sparks posing risk of fire spreading to the house,” Norbu Lhamo, a villager said. She said fire sparks every time bamboo tips come in contact with the live naked conductors.

Earlier, Karma Sonam’s house located below Norbu Lhamo’s nearly caught fire as the naked conductor struck her kitchen roof when an ox collided an electric pole. “The swinging conductor struck the roof of the kitchen as it’s only around a metre away from the roof,” Karma Sonam said.

Wangdhar villagers also complain of the same problem when villagers discussed it with Kuensel. “I was nearly thrown off to death while plucking a lemon,” Sonam Choden said.

While BPC advised to cut down the trees to prevent contact with the conductors, villagers feel cutting down the trees or bamboo was not the option. They want the wires to be replaced. “If the naked conductors is replaced with ABC conductors the problem would be resolved permanently. Lopping branches is a temporary solution,” Kuenzang Thinlay said.

The other problem with lopping trees is the danger of branches falling on live conductors in the process of clearing it.

“Villagers could die as these clearings had to be done under live conductors as there is no way to turn off the power,” Kuenzang Thinlay said, adding the villagers hence refrain from attempting to lop trees or bamboo even though it might be coming in contact with the conductors.

Ugyen Penjor said the alignment of the electric poles wasn’t done properly earlier.

Zhemgang BPC manager, Sherab Gyamtsho, however said that no one had complained to them about the problem or risks. “We would assess the issue if they had notified us,” he said.

Sherab Gyamtsho said BPC is looking into replacing these naked conductors with ABC conductors in places like Goleng.  “But it won’t be until 2017,” Sherab Gyamtsho said, adding that BPC would try to mobilize funds if it really poses risks to the villagers.

The manager however clarified that only low tension conductors could be replaced while no such arrangements can be done for high tension lines.

“If the orchard existed before the electrification BPC would replace the naked conductors but if plantations or structures came after the electrification, trees must be cut down,” Sherab Gyamtsho said.

Tempa Wangdi, Goleng

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