Kochi: A lineman’s job could find a place among most dangerous in Kerala. An RTI reply given by the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) revealed that 160 linemen or an electrical worker on duty, died in the last five years. Eighty-four out of the 160 were contract workers, the RTI reply revealed. The government has also earmarked almost Rs 7 lakh on an average from Workmen’s compensation to victims of both the contract workers and permanent employees.
The KSEB gave the RTI reply to Raju Vazhakkala of Kochi, an RTI and social activist. The list also includes an assistant engineer and a sub-engineer who died in Moolamattom in 2011. Recently, the Kerala High Court had asked KSEB to take measures to ensure safety of its staff. “The right to protection is a human right. Besides, every employer is bound to protect the lives of its employees, especially if the job is risky,” the court said.
According to KSEB, if a worker dies on duty, the victim’s relatives are eligible to get compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act 1923. If the contract awarded is above Rs 3 lakh, the victim is eligible to get a minimum of Rs 3.97 lakh and a maximum of Rs 9.14 lakh. An additional sum of Rs 5,000 is handed over to the family for the funeral. KSEB clarified that out of the 84 employees, 16 persons were denied compensation citing liability of the contractors while five persons went to Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal. Details of the cases in this regard was not mentioned in the list. Officials point to the obvious risks involved in the job while others argue that lack of modern machinery and professional training is a major reason.