(Common Prayer: Writ Petitions are filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, for issuance of a writ of Mandamus, directing the respondents to dismantle the electricity line from tower Nos.172 to 180 located at Erode Towm, Erode District, in the electricity supply line viz., Mettur barage IV to Erode by considering the petitioner's representation dated 16.08.2017.)
Subramonium Prasad, J.
1. Claiming himself as a public litigant activist, the petitioner a resident of Municipal Colony, Erode Town, Erode District, has filed the instant Public Interest Litigation, for a writ of Mandamus, directing the respondents to dismantle the electricity line from tower Nos.172 to 180 located at Erode Towm, Erode District, in the electricity supply line viz., Mettur barage IV to Erode, being recommendation made by the respondents and also representation dated 16.08.2017.
2. The petitioner states that, the High Tension Electric Line Tower between barage IV, Mettur and Erode, carrying 110 KV power supply was erected by the respondent during 1937. The petitioner states that, initially about 66 KV electricity was transmitted through these lines and in the year 1953, it was increased to 110 KV. The petitioner states that, due to constant use for the last nearly 80 years, the stability and strength of towers has come down and High Tension Electric Line Towers No.172 to 179 is becoming a threat to the lives of general public. The petitioner also states that, there is a constant wire snapping and people in that area have got electrocuted. The petitioner gives the following reasons for dismantling the High Tension Electric Line Tower:-
"(i) The said towers are in a very dilapidated condition, due to lack of proper maintenance as per the provisions laid down in the Indian Electricity Supply Act 1948.
(ii) The said poles were erected in year 1937. As per the prevailing Electricity Board guidelines, the lifetime of the High Tension Electric Line Tower is only 35 years, whereas the said High Tension Electric Line Tower number 172-179 has already crossed more than seventy years after its erection. Till date neither it has been dismantled nor have they been re located by the respondents.
(iii) The said defective High Tension Electric Line Tower no's 172 - 179 are not needed by the respondents for Power supply, because after its erection the respondents have erected eight other Power service lines.
(iv) There is no other place to erect High Tension Electric Line Tower no's 172 to 179, since the usual procedure followed by the respondents is to dismantle the existing old High Tension Electric Line Tower and re install the same in the nearby area adjacent to the existing Tower. In this case the Towers form Nol72 to 179 are totally surrounded by Houses and there is no space available for re erecting the High Tension Electric Line."
3. The petitioner states that, there have been recommendation to dismantle the High Tension Electric Line Tower lines. The petitioner relies on a letter dated 27.08.1992, from the Executive Engineer, Operation, TNEB, Ingur, to the Superintending Engineer, Operation, TNEB, Salem, recommending dismantling of the tower between towers No.172 to 179. The petitioner states that the respondents instead of dismantling the towers, are now trying to increase the height of the High Tension Electric Line Tower lines between towers no.172 to 179, for providing ground clearance for the proposed highway over bridge which according to the petitioner is contrary to law.
4. The petitioner states that, he has given a number of representations. The petitioner also states that, the Member of Legislative Assembly of the area has also given a letter dated 17.10.2017, for dismantling the towers. The said representation of the Member of Legislative Assembly was replied on 28.11.2017, stating as under:-
"With reference to the information sought for under the right to Information Act, received under reference supra, you are furnished with information as hereunder:-
1) (a) Year 1937
(b) In the year 1952, the electrical towers and transmitters were upgraded.
(c) Later, they were upgraded and replaced with Bunched Dog Transmitter.
2) 35 years
3) The work relating to installation of HT-Power grid is not done in this office.
4) It is not available in the records of this office
5) It is not available in the records of this office
6) On 21.10.2000, an outsourced worker lost his life, as a result of power mishap while engage in white washing in the terrace of a building. Its copy is enclosed.
7) As per the records available in this office, the reply in respect of its applications had been sent to the concerned. Its copy is enclosed.
8) Whenever there is an electricity related accident, as report in this regard would be made to the official concerned, then and there itself.
9) The information in this regard is not available in the records of this office.
10) The information in this regard is not available in the records of this office.
11) The information in this regard is not available in the records of this office. It is available from the office of the Chief Engineer/ Maintenance / Erode.
12) Based on the letter addressed by the Highways Department, action had been taken at present.
13) On 22.05.2017, Break down Conductor became cut. A copy of the record is enclosed."
5. Upon notice, the Electricity Board has entered appearance and filed the counter.
6. Heard the counsel for the parties.
7. Material on record discloses that, on 17.09.2018, a committee was formed under the Chairmanship of Superintending Engineer/GCC/Salem to report on the conditions of the towers in question. The committee consists of EE/TLC/Mettupalayam, EE/TLC/Salem and EE/Operation/Unjanai. The committee inspected the site and furnished a report regarding the strength of towers between 172 to 179 on 110 KV Erode - Barrage IV PH to the Chief Engineer/Civil/Transmission. This committee was formed in compliance of the directions made by this Court in W.P.Nos.12574 and 14730 of 2018. The report found that the foundations of all the towers are in good condition. It also found that all the tower conditions are regularly inspected, the towers are stable and do not pose any threat or risk.
8. The material on record also discloses the steps taken for the maintenance of towers between location 172 to 179, by the Tamil Nadu Transmission Company (TNTRANSCO). This report was submitted before this Court in pursuance to the directions of this Court dated 06.06.2018 in WP.No.12574 of 2018. The report states that the normal ground patrolling is carried out for defects such as condition of insulators, physical verification of tower parts, tree cutting and bush clearance if any. There is a pre-monsoon inspection of lines and towers and also monthly line inspection.
9. The report shows that the condition of the tower, cross wires, etc., are in good condition. The affidavit filed on behalf of the respondents reads as under:-
"4. I state that the dense construction activities flouting the safety aspects ie., vertical and horizontal clearances, has taken place beneath the towers 172 to 179, resulting in the claim of dismantling the towers. I state that the dismantling the towers is not technically feasible as the same would interfere in with the uninterrupted power supply. Further, the Erode- Barrage IV- Suriampalayam feeder is primarily feeding the Trippur Water Suppy, SIPCOT Perunthurai and the General Public at large in the District of Erode and the same would evidence the importance of the above transmission line.
5. In so far constructing a new cower between the tower number 179 and 180 is concerned I state that based on the proposal of the Government to construct a Grade Separator of Erode - Perundurai - Kangeyam road near Government Hospital, Erode, the Assistant Divisional Engineer(H), Projects, Bhavani vide letter dated 04.10.2017 requested to shift / align the said tower / towers in order to carry on with the road works. I state that pursuant to the same considering the technical feasibility and the importance of continuance of the existing tower line a DCW estimate charges for increasing the ground clearance of the existing 110KV Erode - New Suriyampalayam DC line was submitted to the Highways Department. The Highways Department considering the same had paid a sum of Rs.27,28,640/- towards increasing the ground clearance of the existing line.
6. I state that as stated above considering the request made by the Highways Department and considering the technicalities it was decided to erect a new tower between towers 179 & 180 for providing adequate clearance for the road work. I state that the height of the existing tower is 9 meters and the height of the proposed tower is 19.5 meters and the same has been determined after considering the technicalities, height of the proposed overbridge and safety of the public at large.
7. I state that the erection of additional tower for increasing the ground clearance would in no way affect the stability of the existing towers, whereas if the height of the existing towers were increased the same might cause damage to the existing tower resulting in severe hazards to the life and property. I state that, in any event, as stated above the t
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owers are being periodically line patrolled every month and pre-monsoon inspections are carried out for proper maintenance of the towers. I further state that the additional tower is being constructed in the land belonging to the Department and as such the Petitioner cannot have any grievance in the said erection of new tower." 10. A perusal of the material on record and affidavit shows that the respondents are well in control of the maintenance of the said towers. The respondents who are experts, state that the erection of additional increasing ground clearance no way affects the stability of existing towers. There is no reason for us to disbelieve the report and affidavit of the respondents. The petitioners have not given any other material other than a recommendation given way back in the year 1992, for dismantling the towers. In the absence of any material to the contrary, we are not inclined to grant the writ petition. Same as accordingly, the writ petitions stand dismissed. No Costs. Consequently, connected miscellaneous petitions are closed.