Pune civic body’s ₹16 crore LED street light project under fire
The Pune Municipal Corporation’s (PMC) ₹16 crore light-emitting diode (LED) Smart Street Lighting project whose main objective was to save power consumption amounting to ₹30 crore, is once again in the spotlight as PMC officials have claimed ignorance on how much power is actually being saved.
Although the project was initiated in the month of February 2017, according to Shriniwas Kandul, chief superintendent of PMC electrical department, the civic body is yet to receive any information from TATA Urban Infrastructure, about the amount of electricity saved as a result of using the LEDs.
“The corporation had paid ₹16 crore to the private firm after the claim that the project would save energy. However, the company has not produced any proof of the savings through official document. While the firm has claimed that they have installed 84,000 LEDs, they have not provided any details about the installations,” Kandul said.
It was on November 28, 2016 that the PMC awarded tender no. 46-2016-17 to TATA Urban Infrastructure for the installation of 83,000 LED street lights.
Sachin Tandon, project manager at Tata Urban Infrastructure has refuted these allegations.
He said,“All the allegations by the PMC are absolutely baseless. We have received 80 per cent of the funds from the PMC. While the contract was such that only after the internal audit by the PMC and the submission of documents by us, the funds will be released. Now, since we have received the payment, this makes it evident that we have submitted all the documents.”
According to Tandon, “As many as 83 thousand units have been installed across the city which has resulted into saving of 61 per cent of electricity consumption in the year 2017 compared to that of previous year.”
It was in March 2018 that prominent citizen-activist Maj Gen (retd) Sudhir Jatar, representing Nagrik Chetna Manch (NCM), had filed a complaint with the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) about this contract.
He alleged that the entire tender process for street LED lighting was illegal and that of the 51% saving in electrical consumption as proposed by the contractor and accepted by the PMC, the contractor’s share was 98.5%, while PMC’s share was only 1.5%.
The PMO on its part, forwarded the complaint to the Maharashtra government for further action and the state government in turn passed it on to the PMC to look into the points raised by NCM.
Jatar said this was most unfortunate. “It means that those who have been alleged to have committed the wrong doing have been asked to conduct the inquiry,” he said.
On Monday, senior BJP leader and the leader of the house, Shrinath Bhimale raised questions about the installation of 84,000 LED fittings under the Pune Smart Street Lighting project which had received the best practice award from the central government last month. It was decided by PMC that a third party would be appointed to conduct an audit of the project.
Former standing committee chairman Vishal Tambe said that the revenue sharing agreement between the contractor and PMC needed to be examined as it was not in favour of the public.
Reacting to the announcement of the audit, Jatar said, “It is better late than never. If the PMC conducts this audit in a proper manner, they will immediately come to know the irregularities in it.”