Union power minister Piyush Goyal on Tuesday termed Shiv Sena’s allegations on misappropriation in the LED (light emitting diode) streetlights installation made by the Centre at Marine Drive as ‘malicious and false’.
Goyal insisted that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will save Rs80 crore if all streetlights in Mumbai were replaced with LED lights.
The minister, who was in the city, presented a report put together by consultancy and audit agency Price Waterhouse Cooper (PWC), where a majority of the 2,000 citizens who were surveyed, had given a thumbs up for the project.
He was reacting to an article written in Sena mouthpiece, Saamna, last week in which MP Sanjay Raut, who also edits the paper, raised questions over the Central government’s decision to install LED streetlights in 100 cities, including Mumbai. The article demanded probe into the case and said that two ministers would lose their jobs, if an inquiry was conducted.
The article also questioned how Centre-owned Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), which did not have any production capacity, was awarding sub-contracts to private companies and asking municipal corporations to pay off the money after seven years at 12 to 14 % interest. Earlier, Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray too had questioned the installation of LED lights at Marine Drive.
“Within 24 hours of the article (being published), I asked for a study to be done. The article is malicious and false. I don’t understand what personal interest lies in the story. This is a 100% transparent process; a government project and will happen through electronic bidding,” Goyal said.
Pointing out his government’s commitment to saving power, Goyal added that in the auction the price of bulbs came down from an earlier Rs 315 to Rs 81.93. “At Marine Drive alone, the BMC will save Rs 36 lakh annually because of the LED lamps. If entire Mumbai is installed with them, the civic body will save Rs 80 crore a year,” he added.
Comparing the bidding processes of BMC with the EESL, he said, “Anyone would know if the envelope system is more transparent or the e-bidding process. And as far as the streetlights go, they were white 30 years ago. We have restored the Queens Necklace back as a diamond one.”
Raut, however, chose to remain firm on the issue and reiterated his stand. “Aaditya Thackeray was the first to raise the issue and our MP, Arvind Sawant, had also written to the energy minister expressing displeasure over the white LEDs. We still oppose it," he said.
What the report said:
* Goyal presented a report compiled by Price Waterhouse Cooper (PWC), where a majority of the 2,000 citizens who were surveyed, had given a thumbs up for the project.
* 79% of the people surveyed were happy about the LED lights being installed
* 86% of them think vulnerable groups have become safer
* 81% of them say badly lit areas in the city are now better lit
* 71% of them would like white lights to be installed as opposed to yellow ones