Each signal incurring an electricity bill of Rs. 4,500 for two months
Not just motorists are put to hardship when traffic signals remain non-functional or damaged, even the police are finding it difficult to convince the sponsors on setting right the signals as there is no funding from the government towards these expenses.
Right from installation, payment of EB bills and replacement of worn-out bulbs and other damages, the police are left to depend completely on the sponsors. This led to delay in replacement or maintenance.
In Coimbatore city, there are 43 traffic signals and two more are to be commissioned shortly on Mettupalayam Road taking the total to 45. On an average each signal was incurring an electricity bill of Rs. 4,500 for two months. The total electricity bill for all the 45 signals will be close to Rs. 12.15 lakh.
In Chennai city, the government was providing Rs. 30 lakh per month for maintenance of 300 traffic signals. This helped the Chennai City Police to award contracts to private parties to maintain the signals and controller boxes and they are dependent on sponsors only for electricity bill. Whereas in Coimbatore and in other cities of the State, right from installation, maintenance, replacement of worn-out spares and EB bills have to be met only through the sponsors.
The City Police tried to provide Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) or solar panels for the signals to tide over the long hours of load shedding. Because of the cost already incurred by the sponsors, now sponsors are either hesitant or slow in responding to the request of the police in providing either UPS facility or solar panels.
However, the Chief Minister has recently announced that 25 per cent of the fine amount realised from the violators of road rules could be used by the respective police units for betterment of traffic management. A top police official said that when the 25 per cent fine amount comes to the kitty of the city police, financial constraints in meeting traffic signals could be easily overcome.
In addition, city police are also contemplating on some initiatives to first ensure uninterrupted funds for maintenance of the signals, thereby reducing the dependence on the sponsors. The initiatives are likely to get a green signal in the beginning of 2014.
Meanwhile, Secretary of Coimbatore Consumer Cause K. Kathirmathiyon has written to the Chief Minister asking her to extend the pattern of funding extended to the Chennai City Police for signal maintenance for the other city police units in the State as well. This would help the police carry out the maintenance works without any delay, he added.