It seems that the solar power project didn't seem to go well with the sarkaari babus.
After a solar energy pilot project that was launched in the city in 2007, under which the MC installed two traffic lights in Kitchlu Nagar area of the city at a cost of Rs 3 lakh, the civic body did not initiate any project to harness some solar energy, especially when the city gets abundant sunlight in scorching summer and its unscheduled power cuts have been irking residents.
However, giving information about the future projects of solar energy, Jaspal Singh, senior manager, solar power, Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA), said, "We have approved a master plan for the city. All we are waiting for is the final approval from the central government. We held a meeting with a team from the ministry of new and renewable energy three months ago. The approval can come anytime now."
"The project aims at reducing the power consumption by 10% of the whole city by 2020," he added, citing this as the main goal of the master plan.
"The present status is that the master plan is approved by the state government and is just waiting the final nod of the central ministry headed by Dr Farooq Abdullah," confirmed Singh, adding that Rs 50 lakh were granted by the state government to PEDA to just prepare the master plan.
"The master plan includes installation of various solar power devices in commercial as well as residential sectors of the city, including hospitals and educational institutions. It also incorporates the plan for spreading awareness among the city residents to adopt solar power solutions," confirmed Singh.
Sources confirmed that the master plan was ready in January this year, but the delay was caused by both the central as well the state ministry. The budget for the whole project still depends on the central ministry, which was awaited, said the sources.
However, MC officials had a different side of the story. SP Singh, additional commissioner, lights & computers, said, "We installed a 50-kW solar project in Punjab Agricultural University and traffic lights at Kitchlu Nagar. Now, we have realised that they are nothing more than white elephants. The installation cost is too high and they require maintenance after a few months. Their life is too short and the lights stop working when they are not charged."
Talking about the future plans for the city, he said, "Solar traffic lights is not applicable, but we may install water heaters in coming days. We may install solar devices on the rooftop of MC offices in the city, but nothing has been finalised as the devices are too costly."
"Running awareness programmes in hospitals, schools, colleges, institutions and factories is certainly on the cards and it will begin once the central nod comes," said Singh.