In the second of a series of reports on promises made by the Chennai Corporation, Aloysius Xavier Lopez writes about the delay in the commissioning of LED streetlights in the city’s extended areas

A year ago, the Chennai Corporation’s proposal to ‘fit out’ merged areas with 1.1 lakh light-emitting diode (LED) streetlights seemed like a bright idea.

These neighbourhoods had only 88,000 streetlights, most of which were non-functional. Chain-snatching under cover of darkness was rife in some of these localities. Poor lighting led to frequent road accidents by night.

Tardy execution, however, threatens to take the sheen off the project, estimated to cost the Corporation Rs. 300 crore. The civic body seems to be running hopelessly behind schedule. To make the target easily achievable, the Corporation decided to first focus on installing 55,000 LED streetlights by March 2014.

Even this scaled-down target seems forbidding, when you consider the ground covered so far. The Corporation issued a work order for 13,009 40-watt LED streetlights only a month ago and has supplied just 2,000 LED fittings to the zones covered by the project — Tiruvottiyur, Manali, Madhavaram, Ambattur, Valasaravakkam, Alandur, Perungudi and Sholinganallur. The tendering process for the remaining 97,000 streetlights is yet to begin.

“A number of poles were erected three months ago. But light fittings have not been installed so far,” said Ku. Vanitha, councillor of ward 15 in Tiruvottiyur zone. The civic body attributes the slow progress to the lack of skilled workers equipped to install poles and LED fittings.

Poles and LED fittings are installed by two different sets of workers. And, scouting for contractors who can provide these skilled workers is time-consuming.

To take the project this far, the civic body drew upon its own resources. For further progress, it looks to funding options through the Tamil Nadu Urban Infrastructure Financial Services Ltd. (TNUIFSL).

Despite the odds stacked against it, the Corporation puts on a brave front. It chooses to look on the brighter side of things.

“Work on fitting the 2,000 LED streetlights will be completed in 10 days. Each of the added zones will get new LED fittings ranging from 200 to 350. By the end of November, 13,009 lamps would have been installed,” said a Corporation official.

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