A preliminary estimate by electrical experts based on news reports said apartment dwellers may have to shell out Rs 10-15 lakh to replace digital meters, lift cables, electrical panels, circuits, lighting, cables and distribution boards. This apart from diesel generators and solar inverters or UPS. “If inverters, diesel generators or batteries stored in the basement are to be considered, then every building owner has to spend upwards of Rs 40-50 lakh to replace them all,” explained Ramesh Shivanna, Electrical Engineer and former Chairman of the Energy and Renewable Energy Committee of the Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI).
A senior engineer from Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom) said flood waters contain impurities such as sewage and salts such as calcium, magnesium and sodium. In addition to damaging infrastructure and electrical appliances, they can also conduct electricity.
“Citizens must ensure that all water is drained before undertaking electrical repair work. Otherwise, it will cause electric shock or fire. While we check our transmission system for damage all the way to the gate, it is up to the individual owners to rectify and repair the damaged infrastructure inside,” said D Nagarjuna, Director (Technical) from Bescom.
Even though the use of miniature circuit breakers (MCBs) in almost all electrical infrastructure has reduced incidents of a short circuit or electrocution whenever water enters, Ramesh said flood water, especially if it sits for more than an hour, can easily damage service panels which include fuse, circuit boxes, digital meters, switches and general cables. “There is no alternative but to replace the products. In some cases, you may need to remove the wall covering to remove the switch boxes and replace them,” he added.
KS Kumar, electrical engineer and entrepreneur, said, “Fearing huge costs, people don’t normally substitute utilities. But considering the safety of the family members and to avoid any possible incident in the future, they have to completely redo the infrastructure. If you continue to use the same infrastructure, they may continue to spark or cause slight shocks due to moisture inside. Also, if electrical appliances like refrigerators, washing machines, or grinders get submerged in water, it’s best to replace them. But it takes time to replace all the infrastructure because the moisture in the walls has to dry out.