52 electricity transmission towers collapsed between Oct 2016 to March 2018: CEA

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Published: June 5, 2019 3:14 AM

Since 2007, the maximum number of annual tower failures (163) were recorded in 2014, while the lowest (12) occurred in 2011.

 electricity transmission towers india, Central Electricity Authority, CEA report, electricity transmission towers irregularities, transmission irregularities, Power Grid Corporation of India, PGCIL, L and T, Adani Transmission, Essel Infra

As many as 52 electricity transmission towers collapsed between October 2016 and March 2018, according to the latest report by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), which also points out rampant irregularities on the part of transmission companies leading to collapsing of the assets.

Of the 52 dysfunctional towers, 41 failed within five years of commissioning. Most of the failed towers belonged to state-owned Power Grid Corporation of India (PGCIL), followed by Sterlite Power, L&T, Adani Transmission and Essel Infra.

PGCIL, which owns more than 37% of the transmission lines in the country and ferries about 50% of the total electricity generated, recorded 38 tower failures in the aforementioned period. Sterlite and L&T lost five towers each while one tower belonging to Adani and Essel, respectively, failed.

The report noted that disregarding the recommendations of the standing committee, PGCIL had been clamping and clipping additional component of towers, instead of replacing existing parts with more sturdy substitutes.

Since 2007, the maximum number of annual tower failures (163) were recorded in 2014, while the lowest (12) occurred in 2011.

The report is based on observations of a standing committee of experts which had met on July 2018 to discuss the causes of tower failure. Contrary to the statutory requirement warranting all utilities to report transmission towers failures to the CEA, a number of failures remain unreported, the committee noted.

In most of the cases, transmission utilities have attributed high intensity wind as the cause of tower failures. However, they could not substantiate their reasoning as they were unable to produce the actual wind speed data for the days when the towers failed.

Few towers also collapsed because of erratic reasons such as fire in unauthorised storage underneath the tower, collision with a dumper, theft and sabotage of tower equipment and inadequate soil investigation.

The structural integrity of transmission towers depends on several factors such as adequacy of technical standards, quality of material used in tower body, construction methodology, workmanship, operations and maintenance. The report noted that in most of the cases, transmission towers wrecked because of a combined effect of high wind speed and “lacunae in one or more of the above-mentioned aspects”.

The CEA estimates that investment of about `2.7 lakh crore is required to commission 1.1 lakh circuit km of new transmission lines and 3.8 lakh MVA of additional sub-stations to cater to annual peak load demand of 225.7 GW by the end of FY22.

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