‘All that I had asked from the Corporation was to present their expense account to check how much they spend on their electricity bills. No response.’
District Labour Court Judge S.H. Panchapakesan on Wednesday lashed out at the Kozhikode Corporation for its ‘total inaction’ to a Lok Adalat order he passed almost three months back seeking the civic body’s co-operation to introduce solar-powered streetlights to save taxpayers’ money.
Countering the judge’s accusation, Mayor A.K. Premajam reasoned that projects are implemented by following “procedural formalities” and after the 75-member Corporation Council takes a final call.
A Lok Adalat presided by the judge on January 9, after a special hearing attended by the Kozhikode Corporation Secretary and senior officials, had sought the civic body to act in a time-bound manner and submit a detailed project to use solar-powered LED streetlights.
The Adalat was convened after the Kozhikode District Legal Services Authority received a public interest complaint from Verghese Mathew, an associate professor with Malabar Christian College here, about the frequent power outages across the district.
“All that I had asked from the Corporation was to present their expense account to check how much they spend on their electricity bills. No response. Three months later, total inaction. They say they have no free time,” Mr. Panchapakesan told The Hindu. Earlier in the day, at a public meet, in an emotionally-charged speech interrupted by repeated power cuts, the judge gave full vent to his disappointment at the way his order was shabbily treated by the civic body.
“I had spoken to the Mayor about installing 36Watt solar-powered LED streetlamps and even presented this matter before the Corporation Council,” Mr. Mathew said when contacted.
“I told the council that the project can be launched with the installation of one solar streetlight in the city at a vantage point such as near the Town Hall or on the Thondayad-Malaparamba highway where accidents are frequent. I had informed the Corporation that the civic authority need not shell out the money for the installation and sponsors are ready in return for advertisement space on the lamp post. There is no response from the Corporation so far,” he said. The Corporation’s annual budget for 2012-13 shows that lighting up the city streets alone costs the civic body a whopping Rs.2.55 crore. “In principle, we agree with the installation of solar-powered streetlights, but there are procedural formalities to be followed,” Mayor Premajam said.