Civic bodies are being urged to switch off high-mast lights

Such is the power crisis in the State that the government now wants all urban local bodies to switch off high-mast streetlights.

The Energy Department has communicated to all municipal heads to conserve energy by cutting supply to the high power consuming lights.

Although no decision has been taken on the matter so far, it is no secret that such lights are much sought-after by both corporators and MLAs.

The clamour has led to high mast lights mushrooming not only on the main road junctions, but also in lanes and slums.

Of the 3.49 lakh streetlights dotting the twin cities, which include the conventional and the more modern lights; 25,129 are high mast lights.

With more than 90 per cent glowing claimed, the municipal corporation’s power bill for street lighting, which used to be Rs. 7 crore a month (when cost per unit was Rs. 4.17) for 57 MW, has jumped to about Rs.10 crore because of the fuel surcharge adjustments made by the central power distribution company.

The unit cost now stands at Rs. 6.50 per unit, translating into an annual power bill for street lighting of Rs.120 crore. The civic body has already paid around Rs.114 crore, said senior officials.

“If we are to switch off the high mast lights totally, we will be able to save two crore rupees every month,” senior officials claimed.

Municipal authorities have also written to the power distribution company to allow the commissioner to have the discretion on high mast lights in key road junctions for safety and security concerns. The advice of the police department too will be taken before arriving at any decision, officials said.

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