mid-day editorial: It's time for BEST to see the light

In January this year, the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) Undertaking had robbed Marine Drive of its iconic golden glow, replacing the sodium vapour streetlights on the Queen's Necklace with white LEDs. The severe backlash forced the BEST to go back to the original golden lamps. Now, the Undertaking is once again procuring sodium vapour lights for the city's roads, but only in a limited quantity on a 'short-term' basis. Why? Because the officials think there might later be a demand for the white LEDs instead.

One is tired of the BEST constantly going back and forth on the lighting decision. Why should political backlash force the BEST to change colour, literally and figuratively? Such issues will always result in divided opinions, and there will be substantial debate and dissension, whatever the kind of light chosen. Some will veer towards the more efficient LEDs, others towards the nostalgic glow of sodium vapour lamps.

Politicians will use this debate to get their two minutes in the sun, or spotlight, to be more precise. While different opinions are welcome and expected, it is important to make a distinction between real, studied thought with logic behind it, and arguing just for argument's sake.

It is time the BEST stopped swinging like a pendulum between the two sides of the debate and take a final call on which lights it wants to use to illuminate Mumbai. Experts need to take into account the brightness, cost factor, maintenance and repairs, as well as how environmentally efficient the lights are.

Instead of dilly-dallying on this subject, it's more important for the BEST to focus on the urgent need to ensure that roads are well illuminated at all times, for the safety of motorists and pedestrians. Once they are satisfied that a particular light is BEST (pun intended) for Mumbai, they need to stick with it.

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