Councillors of Vallakkadavu, Valiyathura, Muttathara, Chaka, Sreevarahom, and Beemapally East gheraoed the Sreevarahom electrical section office and secured a promise that streetlights in these segments will be fixed in a week

Lamps lying in disrepair here number over 500 tubelights and 200 sodium vapour lamps, with Vallakadavu alone accounting for 180 fluorescent lamps and 26 sodium vapour lamps.

While the KSEB has agreed to deploy their workers for the task, there appears to be a lack of clarity on the lights’ maintenance. An engineer with the KSEB told The Hindu that a government order issued over two years had clearly stated that it was no longer the board’s duty to employ contract labourers for maintenance works on the lights.

It is the local body’s responsibility to outsource the repairs and maintenance work through an annual contract. But, a later order did allow for the KSEB to be one of the agencies that the local body could approach. All they would need to do is pay the board the fees.

These orders were being brandished by the KSEB authorities when they were being hounded by the councillors to send labourers to repair the lights. “Because of this order, if the KSEB charges a contractor to carry out the task, there will be questions asked later on as to why a certain amount of funds accorded to the board was utilised for a purpose it is not meant to carry out,” said a KSEB official.

When the situation lapsed into a boycott of officials, the board had to agree to send their own staffs – who have other duties apart from maintenance work – to repair the lamps. At Thiruvananthapuram especially, this transition from the board to the Corporation to employ contractors has not been smooth, with the board pushed to direct their staffs for such work as well.