Capital in the dark

Capital in the dark

Capital in the dark

Delhi, nay seven Northern states, remained without power for several hours (beginning 2.30 am Sunday night) thanks to the collapse of the Northern Grid. But power is a constant problem not just in Delhi homes but also on the roads, on ‘good’ days too.

Street lights in many parts of the Capital are not working and this has been pointed out by the CM herself. Just last week, she convened a meeting of all the concerned agencies – MCD, PWD, CPWD, Discoms, Delhi Transco Ltd. etc., and gave strict instructions that all streetlights must be made functional as soon as possible.

The multiplicity of agencies is the biggest problem in the maintenance of street lights. No one agency is willing to ta­ke respo­n­sibility even though areas have been divided.
Delhi has over 6 lakh streetlights, the majority of which, three lakh are maintained by MCD; two lakh by PWD; 40000 by the DSIDC and NDMC each and 20000 by DDA, Delhi Cantonment Board and NHAI.

During the Commonwealth Games, Delhi government spent a whoppi­ng
Rs. 1,42,83,000 crores on upgrading the streetlights to meet international standards. It’s a different matter that the scam to upgrade street lights is cou­n­ted as one of the 10 bigg­est scams of the CWG.

Irrespective of who is resp­o­n­sible, it is the citizens who as usual, are at the receiving end. Atul Goyal, convenor of URJA – the confederation of all Delhi RWAs, says, “Leave aside residential areas, streetlights on even the arterial roads are non-functional. The Kingsway Camp Road, Ring Road stretch from Sri Venkateswara College to Dhaula Kuan, stretch from Patparganj to Anand Vihar, route along the Metro from Ashok Vihar to Azadpur – all plunge into da­r­k­ness after sunset.

It is the same with highways leading to Delhi – from Sonipat, Faridabad, Gurgaon and IGI Airport. Sometimes, these lampposts are alight during the day and not functioning at night. Imagine what a hazard it is!”

Dr Rohit Baluja, President, Institute of Road Traffic Education, adds, “The problem worsens during monsoon when lights either stop functioning or else are hidden by overhanging or broken tree branches. In the absence of street lights, motorists use high beams which ca­use more accidents. Street lights are the ey­es of the night. Unfortunately, it is a thoro­u­g­hly neglected subject in India and the­ir importance in averting mishaps is just not understood.”


Another crucial aspect of pr­o­per street lighting is the safety of women. Prabhleen, a member of Jagori, an NGO which has been conducting safety audits across Delhi for several years now says, “It is not just important to have functioning street lights but they must also be situated in the right locat­i­o­ns. Motorists can still use he­a­d­­lights, but lampposts mu­st ade­quately illuminate the pavements as these are used by pedestrians. The streets which lack proper illumination are most prone to robbery, eve-teasing and sexual assaults. Malfunctioning lights are actually an infringement on the right to free mov­e­ment of women.”

The responsible agencies, are clueless as to why this problem is occurring. YS Ma­nn, director, press and information, MCD, says, “The maintenance of street lights in Delhi have been handed over to area discoms. The conce­r­n­ed discoms are paid for the upkeep of every single lamppost. So if any of them is not working, we deduct a certain amount from their fee. As such, I don’t see any problem why street lights should not be functioning.”

One can only hope that the problem is corrected before a major mishap jolts Delhi out of its complacency. 

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