The lack of street lights in the coastal ward of Vallakkadavu is causing hardships to residents, especially in this Ramzan month, as they have to reach the mosque for evening prayers.

Development standing committee chairperson and ward councillor Shajida Nazar has been flooded with complaints from residents seeking repair of lamps.

The councillors of Vallakkadavu, Valiyathura, Muttathara, Chakka, Sreevarahom, and Beemapally East had gheraoed the Sreevarahom electrical section office on Saturday and secured a promise that streetlights in these segments will be fixed in a week.

In disrepair here (Sreevarahom section) are over 500 tube lights and 200 sodium vapour lamps, with Vallakkadavu accounting for 180 fluorescent and 26 sodium vapour lamps. While the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) had agreed to deploy their workers for the task, there appears to be a lack of clarity on the aspect of maintenance.

Whose duty?

An engineer with the KSEB told The Hindu that a government order issued over two years ago had clearly stated that it was no longer the board’s duty to employ contract labourers for maintenance of 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 requisite fee. These orders were being brandished by the KSEB authorities when they were asked 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 that it is not meant to carry out,” said a KSEB official. When the situation snowballed into a protest, the board had to agree to send their staff, sources said. In Thiruvananthapuram, especially, the transition of responsibility from the board to the Corporation had not been smooth, with the board being asked to depute its staff for such work as well, sources said.

KSEB-City Corporation tussle keeps a ward ‘in the dark.’