As the city remains active well into the night with employees of Information Technology and business process outsourcing (BPO) companies being dropped home at late hours, the need for streetlights is being felt more than ever before.

While the Chennai Corporation has taken steps to improve the longevity of the electricity bulbs, installation of new streetlights and replacing underground cables, residents point to problems such as the lack of pruning of avenue trees, lesser voltage of electricity bulbs and old underground power cables as reasons for poor illumination of streets.

C.G. Ratnam, a resident of Anna Nagar, said that while lights burn brightly, the streets remained dark in a number of places in Anna Nagar owing to failure to prune avenue trees, with tree branches blocking the lights. The same was the case at several streets in Besant Nagar, Adyar, R.A. Puram, T. Nagar, Jawahar Nagar, Periyar Nagar, Perambur and Ashok Nagar, where lack of pruning of avenue trees resulted in poor illumination.

Corporation Commissioner Rajesh Lakhoni, while admitting to failure to prune avenue trees, said that it was difficult as it involved diverting manpower and ladder vehicles for the purpose. He said: “We have proposed to purchase mechanical rotary sawing machines to address this problem. The mechanical rotary blade which can be adjusted according to the required heights for cutting the branches would make the task easier. Very soon, tenders would be called for purchasing 10 equipments for distributing one each in the 10 zones of the city.”

Mr. Lakhoni said that in the past two years the civic agency had taken several steps to ensure better functioning of streetlights.

He said that the number of non-functional streetlights in the city had been brought down to around two to three per cent this year from eight per cent last year. Before 2006-07, the percentage was as high as 22 per cent, he added. A senior Corporation official said that previously a company having ISI certificate could supply electrical bulbs, but certain stipulations, like the company should have been in existence for at least 10 years and should have sold a minimum number of lights, were set so that branded companies also participated for supplying lighting materials.

These stipulations improved the burning hours and resulted in lesser complaints.

But the situation in the suburbs is not as bright as in the city, with several streets plunged in darkness or inadequate illumination.

V. Rajagopal, a social activist, said poor illumination of streetlights poses security threat to people, creating grounds for chain-snatching and other illegal activities to be carried out.

More In: Chennai