Today's Paper

Delhi’s robbers more powerful than all the solar power

SOLAR POWER?: A signboard of a solar power system for road traffic signals is all that is left now at the busy Nizamuddin Bridge-Ring Road crossing in Delhi. The solar power panel is gone.

SOLAR POWER?: A signboard of a solar power system for road traffic signals is all that is left now at the busy Nizamuddin Bridge-Ring Road crossing in Delhi. The solar power panel is gone.   | Photo Credit: – PHOTO: SHANKER CHAKRAVARTY

Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar

They have stolen roadside solar panels worth lakhs from the Capital’s crossings

NEW DELHI: A large number of solar power panels installed at road traffic signals all over the Capital have been carted away by thieves in recent weeks and months. This has not only left most road crossings dependent on regular power supply for operation but also led to a situation where the authorities no longer have the solar option to ensure round-the-clock operation of signals at important junctions.

An immediate fall-out of the crisis is being felt in the much talked about Bus Rapid Transit corridor from Moolchand to Ambedkar Nagar. Power breakdowns in recent days have led to endless traffic jams here since a smooth operation of all kinds of vehicles requires optimum use of the signalling system.

‘Looking for solutions’

Though the signalling system was ordered to be fine-tuned by the Delhi Government to minimise travel time for all categories of road users, power problems in the past week exposed a number of lacunae.

Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said a major problem that was being witnessed now was the inability of the Delhi traffic police to provide a sufficient number of personnel for handling the traffic in the 5.8-km corridor in the event of a power breakdown.

With the power back-up provided by invertors at some places also proving insufficient at times, Ms. Dikshit said her government was now looking for other solutions to tackle the problem.

“We are now contemplating installation of such solar power panels on high-mast lights so that they are at least out of the reach of the thieves,” she said, adding that it is such city-specific problems that are making implementation of various advanced engineering projects difficult.

Delhi’s tryst with solar power signals began in 1998 when the first of these signals were installed at three road junctions.

However, the project was then shelved.

Four years later in 2002, the traffic police tested the technology on National Highway-8.

After the experiment proved successful, the four major road junctions of ITO, Moolchand Flyover crossing, Inter-State Bus Terminus at Kashmere Gate and Mukarba Chowk on Outer Ring Road received the first solar power signals.

Over the years more such signals came up at various important crossings.

Though their price tag was always higher at Rs.12 lakh to 15 lakh instead of Rs.4 lakh to 5 lakh for the ordinary power signals, it was not realised by the authorities then that the expensive solar panels would be carted away by thieves.

However, the situation has now come to such a pass that the annual review report of the Delhi police also does not make any mention of such “environment-friendly” and “reliable” signalling system in the city.

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