Losses mount as rains wreak havoc in Thiruvananthapuram

KSEB in hyperdrive mode to re-establish power connections; estimates put damages in crores

Thiruvananthapuram: The damages caused by wind on Friday were bigger than anticipated as few more trees and electric poles continued to get uprooted until Saturday evening. Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) cancelled all its leave applications and amassed a 270-member team that continued work till late night.

As per KSEB estimates, around 812 electric poles were damaged across district and power supply could not be restored even by Saturday night. The KSEB is yet to assess its loss but said it would be worth several lakhs. The overall damage in the district is worth several crores, as per rough estimates.

Mobile phone towers failed in western part of the district as a 66 KV lane sustained minor damages. Another 10KV line from Pothencode that supplies power to city was also damaged. Around 165 lines under Kanjiramkulam section and 78 around Poovar areas snapped and it would take two more days for power supply to be reinstated here.

Power supply remained interrupted during the day at Peyad, Thirumala, Pappanamcode, Nemom, Kaudiar etc. “At places were cables and conductors were snapped we could resume supply. However at most places we had to put new concrete poles and it could take another day for supply to be fully normal,” senior officials said.

The damaged overhead line that powers locomotives was repaired near Parassala and Balaramapuram. However a third snapping near kuzhithurai could not be repaired even by Saturday evening. Few more trees uprooted at Karumom, Thiruvallam, Pachallor, Vazhamuttom areas in the morning.

Around 50 houses suffered damage across the district with coastal areas bearing most of the brunt. As per estimates, the wind speed came up to a maximum of 70 kilometre per hour on Friday and was around 40 kmph on Saturday.' Loss of property was reported across the district in places such as Marayamuttom and Neyyatinkara where tree fell on a civil station. Damages were reported at Marayamuttom, Chenkal, Kunnathukal and Amboori also.

If trees fall, plot owners are liable

The Disaster Management Authority has asked private individuals and those in charge of private and public buildings in the district to take urgent measures to cull trees within their premises that are hanging dangerously over public places.
“If these trees fall and cause damages, those in charge of the premises will be held responsible,” said Dr Sekhar Kuriakose, head of State Emergency Operations Centre.

In short, the private individual, and not the district administration, is responsible for managing a tree. Although the Disaster Management Department has not taken a count of uprooted trees, it is unofficially estimated that nearly 200 trees had either fallen fully or were hanging dangerously over public roads.

On May 5, the Department had issued an order directing urban local bodies to ensure that trees with luxuriant growth, their branches overhanging public roads, are pruned to reduce windfall-related damages during June. The order also stated that private owners would be held liable if a tree within their property caused damage to life or property.

Pruning requires no one’s permission but to cull or fell a tree one has to pass through an elaborate bureaucratic process. If a person finds that a tree within the premises under his charge was dangerously poised and has to be culled, the he has to submit an application before a three-member committee comprising the head of the concerned local body, tahsildar and forest range officer.

Dr Kuriakose said that the committee would do a site inspection and would have to take a call on whether to cull or prune the tree within 24 hours. Dr Kuriakose blamed “environmental fundamentalism” for the ‘tree fall’-related calamities that took place in the district on June 17. “There was time when we pruned trees during May as a matter of habit and had used the leaves as manure. But now even such a simple sensible measure is looked down upon,” he said. “A tree in the forest should be allowed to live and die wild but a tree in the urban milieu should be managed,” Dr Kuriakose added.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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