Entrust KSEB with the task, demands Thiruvananthapuram Corporation

Even as many parts of the city plunge into darkness after sunset, the impasse over who will take up maintenance of streetlights continues.

An all-party delegation from the City Corporation had visited Urban Affairs Minister Manjalamkuzhy Ali requesting him that the maintenance and repairs be returned to the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) as the civic body lacked the financial means for the same.

A government order issued in August 2011 had relieved the KSEB of the responsibility of employing contractors for maintenance work and the local bodies were entrusted with the task. This, Corporation officials said, was a development that threw maintenance completely off track. For one, the civic body did not have a technical core group that could oversee maintenance and repairs and, more importantly, there was no other local body in the State that was anywhere close to Thiruvananthapuram Corporation in terms of numbers.

Corporation Works standing committee chairman V.S. Padmakumar said that there were 65,000 fluorescent tubes, 15,000 sodium vapour lamps and over 50 high-mast lights. He also pointed out that there were very few agencies in the State willing to take up the annual maintenance contract (AMC) at the rate quoted by the local body.

While MPs’ and MLAs’ local area development funds have been generously doled out for the installation of high-mast lamps at key junctions, the electricity charges for them depletes the Corporation coffers rapidly. This brings to light another issue that mars the relations between the two agencies, metering the streetlights in the city. The Corporation ends up paying an electricity bill that includes all streetlights irrespective of whether they are working or not.

In order to carry out energy metering on all streetlights, the Corporation has already paid Rs.1.20 crore. The KSEB will bear the remaining half. Mr. Padmakumar said that though the civic body had paid its share over three months ago, the KSEB was yet to even begin the metering. An official with the KSEB said that the process had begun and that it would be completed by December this year.

A delegation from the Corporation also visited Electricity Minister Aryadan Mohammed on Friday. Both Ministers were alerted to the fact that Onam was barely a month away and that the issue needed to be solved at the earliest. “We are headed to a huge crisis and the KSEB has to take the responsibility of maintenance again,” said Mr. Padmakumar.

Mr. Ali has promised to take up the issue during the next Cabinet meeting.