CUTTACK: The much-hyped LED street lighting system implemented in the city to save electricity costs while providing better illumination seems to have failed on both the counts.
The project was launched by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik at Markatnagar in 2017. The Cuttack Municipal Corporation (CMC) had replaced sodium vapour lights from the city’s streets with LED lights. In the last three years, over 30,000 LED lights were installed in the city.
It was believed that the transition to energy efficient street lighting system would reduce the civic body’s electricity bill by at least 50 per cent. However, on the contrary, the costs seem to have soared. The civic body has paid Rs 15.59 lakh in three years since 2017, more than that it was paying in the three previous years, when the street lights were all sodium vapour.
In 2015-16, the CMC’s electricity bill on street lighting was around Rs 5.28 lakh while in 2016-17 it was even less at Rs 4.97 lakh.
After introduction of LED street lighting system in 2017, the electric bill should have decreased in 2017-18 financial year. But, the power expenses towards lighting streets in the city went up significantly to Rs 5.35 lakh. Similarly, in 2018-19 the CMC paid Rs 5.20 lakh and Rs 5.03 lakh in 2019-20.
While, questions are being raised over the issue, the CMC has drawn flak for lax management and maintenance of the energy efficient lighting system that has led to such a situation. It is alleged that the LED street lights are not being switched off during the day at several locations in the city and this has been reflecting on the power bills. This apart, such lights at many places are lying defunct owing to lack of maintenance and use of sub-standard equipment.
It has become a common complaint of residents that the CMC is not bothered to repair the LED lights that have broken down despite registration of complaints. However, if someone posts a complaint on Twitter, it promptly acts and posts picture of the repair works triumphantly on the social media platform.
“But, how many people have access to Twitter or know that work gets done only if a complaint is made through the social media platform. People are now forced to open social media accounts only to bring the problems to the civic body’s notice as there is little response to grievances made through the normal modes,” rued a resident.
CMC Commissioner Ananya Das, however, attributed the situation to increase in street lighting in the city. “The number of lights has increased considerably. Hence, load calculation remains almost the same, if not higher,” she said.