In what has come as an eye-opener, it has now emerged that contractors in connivance with some officers of the municipal corporation (MC) lights wing have installed cheaper mercury bulbs instead of the mandated metal-halide (MH) lamps in the streetlights of major city roads — Ferozepur Road and elevated road from Jagraon Bridge.
Contractors, who were allotted maintenance of the streetlights around two years ago, were nearly two months ago asked to replace damaged or non-functional bulbs with MH lamps. However, they installed cheaper mercury bulbs, causing a loss of around `15 lakh to the public exchequer.
MC had installed the MH lights on centre verges of both roads a few years ago. The cost of one MH lamp is around Rs 800, while a mercury bulb of same capacity costs between Rs 200 and Rs 300.
The latter have been phased out by the civic body as the MH lamps have higher luminous efficacy. A high-intensity discharge (HID) gas discharge lamp, the MH lamps are similar to mercury vapour lamps, but contain additional metal halide compounds in the arc tube, which improve the efficacy and color rendition of the light.
The scam came to fore after a complaint by deputy mayor RD Sharma, following which MC commissioner Pradeep Kumar Agarwal and other MC officials investigated the matter and confirmed the irregularity. However, the corporation is yet to act against the guilty officers.
The commissioner has so far only decided to serve show-cause notices to the MC officers concerned, while imposing penalty on the contractors concerned.
It is pertinent to mention such maintenance works come under non-plan head and are not approved by any civic body committee.
Resultantly, there is no check on the works, and contractors in connivance with officers, such as sub-divisional engineers (SDEs), executive engineers (XEN) and superintending engineers (SE), make most of the situation.
MC assistant commissioner Satwant Singh said there were more than 2,000 points where there was provision of only MH lights in city.
“It was shocking to find that around 80-90% streetlights have mercury bulbs instead of MH lamps,” he added.
While refuting involvement of any MC staff, MC lights wing superintending engineer (SE) SP Singh agreed that the misappropriation was done by the contractors, Manmohan Singh for Ferozepur Road, and Rajeev Enterprises for elevated road.