One executive engineer and two sub-divisional engineers maintain 30,000 streetlights for the municipal corporation in Chandigarh. There are six junior engineers, while an equal number of posts remain vacant. No wonder then, that almost half of these lights are non-functional. And, yet again underlining discrimination with the ‘non-VIP’, southern parts of the city the worst-affected are Sectors 32, 40 to 45 and 51, besides Sector 20.
These facts become important on a day when the MC’s top bosses held a press conference to highlight its achievements, many of which were restating of old schemes and promises worthy of little mention again.
Now, the MC is planning outsourcing the streetlight maintenance to private firms.
At the press conference, accompanied by mayor Harphool Chander Kalyan, MC commissioner Vivek Pratap Singh acknowledged the “acute shortage” of staff. Vivek Pratap informed that streetlights were non-functional mostly in southern sectors “due to more cable theft in these sectors”.
The mayor said, “We are not satisfied with the maintenance; so we are planning to outsource the work.” The agenda would be presented in the coming MC House meeting. “Hopefully, by next month tenders will be floated,” the commissioner added. Chief engineer Mukesh Anand too said, “We know most streetlights are non-functional, due to shortage of staff.”
Putting a number to the problem, chair man of the MC’s electricity committee, BJ councillor Rajesh Gupta, said, “In February, we conducted several surveys and found that nearly 14,000 streetlights were non-functional. I am tired of requesting the officers concerned to repair the streetlights. The delay in work is due to both procedural lags and the lethargic attitude of the officials of the electricity department.” The issue has been debated in the MC House several times.
There are 20,000 other streetlights — most of these on the primary roads, not inside sectors — under the UT administration. Status check on them was not available immediately.
General secretary of the Sector-40 MIG houses welfare association, SK Khosla, said, “We have never seen anyone from the electricity department repairing streetlights in our area. We have raised the issue several times with the MC commissioner and in the ward committee meeting; all in vain. Incidents of snatching and accidents are increasing day by day, and the dark makes it easier.”
Ramesh Nakhra, a resident of Sector 32, said, “It is very difficult to move on the Sector 45-46 dividing road, as not even a single streetlight is working.”
Now, as outsourcing is being seen as a solution, it must be mentioned that MC has failed to start recruitment for the 600 sanctioned posts lying vacant in various departments. According to the MC’s record, there are a total of 2,000 posts lying vacant.