Electrocution claims countless lives in Karachi every year. According to a new study on safety incidences, it was reported that between the years 2019-2021, Karachi witnessed a staggering case of 388 electrocutions. It was not surprising to see that 70% of these cases unfolded in the very walls we call homes & within private premises. The single largest cause of these incidents was use of water pumps and generators in unsafe conditions where water accumulates around them, or they are carelessly placed in unshaded areas during the rainy season. 40 lives were lost due to these seemingly innocent appliances. A smaller yet significant death also occurs due to faulty wiring & undertaking electrical work inside homes by unauthorized individuals.
To exacerbate the situation, the months of July to September, during the monsoon season, become an even deadlier period. Waterlogged streets and treacherous potholes create a hazardous environment, accounting for a staggering 50% of electrocution cases during this season. This has been an ongoing problem as we see that poor state of infrastructure in many cities of Pakistan. Even though the rain is expected from July till September every year, the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of the people still seem to be amiss.
What’s even more concerning is that the media’s focus often fails to shed light on the actual hazard & cause of electrocution. Misconception around these accidents circulate on how an individual was electrocuted through a utility pole or a family member was electrocuted while working at home. Many electrocution cases go unreported or are not properly documented where high number of cases do not exclude suspicion of homicide or suicide. Similarly, negligence and tampering with power networks remains largely overlooked or under-discussed. It was reported that less than 7% of these incidents are attributable to utility infrastructure often linked to power theft and encroachment. Despite knowing the safety hazard & legal implications people continue to build homes & entire settlements around utility infrastructures and often install kundas which again is a prevalent practice in certain areas like Orangi, Surjani & Baldia causing 23 deaths in 3 years.
Such cases continue to occur every year and we are yet to see serious intervention from the relevant authorities. Indeed, a need for implementation of necessary precautionary measures is crucial to prevent such accidents from happening in the future.
Another important factor to highlight here is that 87% of the reported cases are males between the age of 21-30 years. With the consistent cases of electrocution happening in different parts of Karachi, there is a need to enforce some strict rules and raise awareness about the same in the people. A rigorous awareness campaign on educating masses on unsafe behaviors & use of electrical appliances has to be reinforced. While implementing safe work practices where only certified electricians with proper use of personal protective equipment should be allowed to work on internal & external wiring to ensure safety of public & electrical workers at large.
It is also imperative to enforce stricter application of punishment & penalties for tampering with utility infrastructure by authorities to prevent any further casualties in future.
If we hope to curb the loss of lives due to electrocution, such plans and strategies need to be worked up as soon as possible.