If in the next few days, the streetlights don’t come on and you have to drive home on dark roads, don’t be surprised.
Power discom BSES Rajdhani has reportedly threatened to pull the plug on the streetlights in the capital if dues of around Rs 100 crore as electricity bill and other related charges—for streetlights across the Capital in the MCD areas, which service over 90 per cent of Delhi—are not cleared.
The discom has sought the amount from the Delhi government’s budget outlay as “bailout” for the electricity bill that the MCD is not willing to pay.
Last week, BSES applied to the Delhi government for transfer of the same amount from its MCD fund.
“The MCD has not been paying this amount on some pretext or the other,” Gopal Saxena, BRPL Chief Executive Officer, said in a letter to Keshav Chandra, Special Secretary to CM.
“Please make arrangements for at least 85 per cent of the amount by 31st March,” the letter reads.
For the cash-strapped Delhi government, which has been pulling out a majority of the subsidies from power and water sectors in the past one year, it is a different story. It is in no position to oblige such a demand from the discom.
Unable to see any resolution of the dispute, the BSES has communicated to the government its willingness to snap supply to the streetlights.
“We took the matter to the High Court sometime ago, which asked us to inspect the streetlights jointly with the MCD and directed the civic body to pay the bills as raised by us. They are still not paying up,” said a senior BSES official who did not wish to be named.
“The MCD goes by the assumption that the number of streetlights in Delhi has not increased since 2002 and that we use the same 100-watt bulbs for streetlights that were used in the 1980s and 90s. This is just absurd,” Saxena.
The MCD, too, has its side of the story. It now claims it has been overbilled.
“During the joint inspection, the number of streetlights and wattage of electricity supplied to the streetlights are shown higher in the bills than what is in MCD records,” said Deep Mathur, Director (Press information), MCD.
The MCD has raised issues like the streetlights are not properly marked and painted. “We have asked BSES to give us a fresh list of marked and painted streetlights, which will be verified at the earliest.”