Solar street-lights in Shimla city non-operational for months as batteries/apparatus go missing

SHIMLA- Shimla Municipal Corporation targets to achieve the status of LED-city by replacing all old 8,000 streetlights with light-emitting diodes (LED). Similarly, solar lighting is being promoted for domestic use along with lighting public paths. These steps would reduce energy consumption as well as cost of lighting for the administration. However, the usual lethargy and irregularities in the government machinery have crept in this endeavor as well. The trouble with streetlights seems to remain as it was earlier to these announcements. It’s true that LED lights have been installed at several localities. But others still await even alternate arrangement as old lights are not working for months.

In this row, residents of Sanjuali, Shimla have complained lack of lighting on a link road from Engine Ghar (Ward. 16) to Sangti as solar lights are not working for past several months. The road is in complete darkness causing inconvenience to locals. Reportedly, thieves even stole batteries/apparatus boxes that are usually attached to poles near its base. These boxes are usually protected by a simple frame, which makes it easier for thieves to detach them from the pole. The residents also complained that lights are not in operational state for months  but administration has not bothered to fix them. Other localities of Shimla are also facing similar situation due to lack of maintenance. These localities, especially from SMC wards 16, 17,  and 18, have also raised the issue of lack of street-lighting earlier in March 2015.

The installation of solar lights had begun in 2012. In 2015, the MC had listed 112 spots for installation of solar lights with an estimated cost of Rs. 2 crore. However, a few ward councilors had alleged that instead of lighting public places, lakhs were spent to install lights to benefit VIPs, prominent businessmen, and other influential people without taking the Mayor, the Deputy Mayor, and MC house in confidence.

Solar lights, installed during last couple of years under central schemes, are the only way to illuminate pedestrian paths in several localities. But now these localities complaint that the solar lights have either stopped working or their batteries are missing. After installation, administration hardly pays much attention to monitor the operational status of these lights. In some cases, these non-operational streetlights aren’t attended for years.

Moreover, people have raised questions over measures taken by civic body to prevent theft of batteries.

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