No takers for Solar streetlight contract

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has installed 2,400 solar powered streetlights at locations in Worli, Goregaon, Malad, Kandivali, Dahisar and Kurla, but over 70 per cent of these are currently not working. The BMC spent Rs 35,000 per unit hoping to save at least 20 to 25 per cent electricity, but their efforts seem to have gone in vain.

Solar-powered streetlights
Out of order: The civic body has installed 2,400 solar-powered streetlights at locations in Worli, Goregaon, Malad, Kandivali, Dahisar and Kurla, but over 70 per cent of these are currently inoperable. Representation pic/Thinkstock

Corporators across party lines raised the issue on Wednesday in a standing committee meeting. Congress corporators alleged that the concerned officers of the civic body are not taking action against the contractor who was in charge of maintaining because of a nexus.
Officials from the BMC’s mechanical and electrical department, which is in charge of the solar streetlights, revealed that no company has responded to tenders floated for the maintenance contract, because they believe the task is difficult as the lights and other parts of the units are prone to theft.

“Parts of the solar lights, especially the batteries, are often stolen and it is difficult to replace them all the time. Not a single contractor responded to the last two tenders floated in February and December 2011 respectively. Also, a new tender was floated last month and responses are awaited,” said a senior official on condition of anonymity.

G S Sharif, executive engineer of the department, said, “As per our seniors’ orders, we are not permitted to reveal any information.”

Anuradha Pednekar, Shiv Sena corporator from Kurla alleged in the Standing Committee meeting that the civic officials are favouring the contractor in this matter. “Taxpayers’ money is going to waste as the civic officials are not taking interest in maintaining the streetlights. Since the last two months I have been complaining about the streetlights not working, but still no action has been taken in this regard,” said Pednekar.

Fifteen solar powered streetlights have been installed in Kurla-Nehru Nagar, of which 11 are not working since the past two months. “We don’t want action against the contractor. We just want to see results,” Pednekar said.

Congress corporator Sheetal Mhatre said, “It surely indicates that there is a nexus between the BMC officials and contractor.”

The standing committee chairman meanwhile has ordered the vigilance department to conduct an inquiry into the matter. 

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