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Corporators shut out power saving plan

Saksham - in simple Hindi means ?able? or ?capable?. In the municipal context, however, the term is applied to elected representatives who can get work done in their constituencies by bending rules even if it results in losses to the Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC).

india Updated: May 26, 2006 13:26 IST
SAEED Khan

Saksham - in simple Hindi means ‘able’ or ‘capable’. In the municipal context, however, the term is applied to elected representatives who can get work done in their constituencies by bending rules even if it results in losses to the Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC).

In fact, the greater the transgression or fiscal damage wrought by a corporator in carrying out works demanded by voters the more ‘capable’ he is deemed to be.

Countless IMC schemes have been sabotaged by such corporators in the past. And now, the Corporation’s ambitious Rs 4.5 crore bid to conserve power and pare streetlight electricity bills has fallen prey to their machinations.

The civic body last year removed 40 watt tube lights installed at 25,000 roadside electricity poles and replaced them with energy saving lamps that lasted nearly three times longer. The move resulted in an immediate fall in streetlight power bills, which dropped from Rs 48 lakh to Rs 35 lakh per month.

The savings did not last long though. Nearly 7,500 of the 10,000 tube lights removed have since been installed at fresh sites in various wards on the orders of corporators.

What this has meant is that far from coming down, the Corporation’s power costs have in fact gone up, as the civic body is now being billed for an additional 7,500 roadside lighting fixtures.

The streetlight replacement programme was carried out at the recommendation of Econolor- a Canada-based consultancy firm that offers urban development and power solutions to civic bodies in developing countries.

As per the proposal 25,000 of the City’s 45,000 roadside lighting fixtures would be replaced by 30 w energy saving lamps at a cost of Rs 4.5 crore.

Instead of shelling out cash for the project the Corporation declared that the contractor would be paid on a monthly basis through savings generated by the project.

Apart from paring power costs the move was also expected to reduce maintenance costs as the lamps boast a working life of 18,000 hours as against 5,000 hours for standard 40 w fluorescent lights.

Of the 25,000 tube lights to be removed 10,000 were slated to be replaced by 30 w poly-carbonate waterproof fixtures, i.e the lamp and ballast were to be covered by a special shell.

The remaining sites were to be fitted with the T-8 retrofit model where the energy saving lighting devices were to be installed in the old metal shells.

The project was awarded to New Delhi-based M/s Asian Electronics on June 10, 2005. As per the agreement the firm would not only replace tube lights but also undertake maintenance of the lamps until it had recovered the Rs 4.5 crore incurred on the project, the gestation period estimated to stand at 24 months by the IMC.

When contacted City Engineer NS Tomar declined to comment on the issue saying he was in a meeting and cannot talk.