Let there be light - in Delhi’s murky streets!

December 17th, 2008 - 1:37 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 17 (IANS) The prospect of walking around in the capital at night fills many residents with dread as most roads are poorly lit and some not at all. But things might brighten up soon with plans to award contracts for maintenance of street lights.The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), which is responsible for maintenance of streetlights, admits that it is far below prescribed norms. But now it has a concrete plan to improve the situation.

MCD Commissioner K.S. Mehra told IANS: “The city’s street lighting is far from prescribed standards. There is no uniform lighting. So to ensure that the lighting improves, we have called for a tender to appoint a company to maintain the lights for a period of three years.”

The idea to issue maintenance specific contracts stems from the fact that so far installing companies have not been taking care of the lights, claiming it isn’t their responsibility, according to the MCD.

Every time a street light stops working, a complaint is lodged with the councillor concerned and then he or she brings the matter to the notice of the corporation where it is debated before a special tender for its repair is floated.

As for cleaning the lights, that hardly every happens.

“To tackle the problem of maintenance, we want contractors to take up comprehensive reponsibility of the lights for the three-year period,” said Mehra.

The civic body had earlier also approached the city’s power supplier BSES Delhi for maintaining the 6,000-odd light poles in public places and parks in the city, but they had refused.

“While the requirement of each street light is 40-45 lux (a measure of brightness), the majority of lights are 18-20 lux - that is at half the required standard,” Mehra said.

It was noted by the MCD that two years after installation, the lights begin to give way.

“There is a general feeling among the public that the lights are vandalised or stolen and so are not working, but in a majority of cases it is because of lack of maintenance that the lights don’t last.”

“Dust blocks the glass screen and it is not cleaned. The light bulbs fuse or there are a few cases of thefts. Despite that fittings are not replaced,” Mehra said.

Time and again, MCD councillors have raised the issue of light theft. Areas like Pitampura, Kapil Vihar and Rohini Zone have witnessed high theft rates.

Mehra said that to curb such thefts, the MCD had decided to install needle like structures, resembling barbed wires, at the base of the poles “so that thieves can’t scale the height and steal installations”.

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