Mayor Balkar Sandhu and councillors during a meeting in Ludhiana on Saturday. (Harsimar Pal Singh/Hindustan Times)
Mayor Balkar Sandhu and councillors during a meeting in Ludhiana on Saturday. (Harsimar Pal Singh/Hindustan Times)

‘Missing’ LED lights: Ludhiana mayor orders survey as councillors complain

The MC had earlier got into a contract with the company for replacing the old streetlights with the LED ones at 1.5 lakh points and their maintenance for seven years in the city under the Smart City Mission at the cost of around 57.78 crore
By HT Correspondent, Ludhiana
UPDATED ON AUG 01, 2021 01:03 AM IST

Amid the row over installation and maintenance of LED streetlights, councillors have accused Tata company of installing less number of lights in the city in comparison to the number mentioned in the official record submitted to the Ludhiana municipal corporation (MC).

Ordering a survey in the city during a meeting of councillors held at Rose Garden on Saturday, mayor Balkar Sandhu stated that 144 lights are missing from his own ward too.

Sandhu has ordered civic body officials to take along a representative of every councillor in the city and complete the survey in 10 days, following which a meeting of MC General House will be held to take final decision regarding whether the it should terminate the contract with the company or not.

The company has been getting the energy saving charges (85%) under the shared saving model from the MC for the reduced electricity bills after replacing the old streetlights with LED lights.

The MC had earlier got into a contract with the company for replacing the old streetlights with the LED ones at 1.5 lakh points and their maintenance for seven years in the city under the Smart City Mission at the cost of around 57.78 crore.

During the meeting, the councillors rued that the difference between the record and actual lights installed at the site is up to 500 points in different wards of the city and the company has been getting the share of energy saving charges for those lights too. The councillors said that the company is getting around 2 crore as a share of energy saving charges every month.

Nirmal Singh, father-in-law of Prabhjot Kaur, councillor from ward number 29, represented her in the meeting and said, “After comparing the official record with the lights installed in the ward, it was found that around 500 additional lights have been shown in the area than the actual number of lights installed. The MC should take action against the company and the required number of lights should be installed in the area.”

Similarly, councillor of ward number 2, Gurmail Jajji said that 188 lights are missing from his ward, 300 from the ward of Pal Singh Grewal (ward number 24), and 60 from the ward of Gurdeep Neetu (ward number 52).

Grewal said that the company has been getting the energy saving charges for these points too without doing any investment at all. Questions were also raised on how the completion certificates were given to the company by MC officials, if the number of lights installed is less than what is shown in the record.

Stating that lights have not been installed at 200 points in his ward out of total 1,055 points shown in the record, leader of opposition Harbhajan Singh Dang said action should also be taken against the officials who gave completion certificates to the company.

Mayor Sandhu and councillors also verified the maintenance staff of the company during the meeting after the councillors complained that the company has not deputed the required number of staffers for repairing the lights.

Sandhu and Congress councillor Manpreet Grewal also had a heated argument when the latter demanded that the mayor should also disclose the names of councillors, in whose wards additional lights have been installed.

The mayor said that a survey is being conducted and everything will come to the fore.

Sandhu said that the councillors were not satisfied with the working of Tata company due to which a meeting was scheduled. As per the councillors, a large number of lights might be missing. A House meeting will be organised after the completion of the survey to finalise the next action plan against the company, he added.

Social distancing goes for a toss

At a time when the administration is appealing the residents to ensure Covid-appropriate behaviour and not to drop their guard, most of the councillors and officials, including mayor Balkar Sandhu, were not wearing masks during the meeting. Also, social distancing went for a toss as the councillors were sitting close to each in a congested area.

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