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Funds scarce, darkness prevails

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 4: Rashmi Kanta Mishra, a resident of Khandagiri, will have to do without streetlights in her area till the roads and buildings division of the public works department have “sufficient funds” to spend for the lamps.

The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation has not been able to install streetlights on two major stretches around Khandagiri as the roads and buildings wing of the public works department is yet to deposit the required money for this purpose.

Sources in the roads and buildings wing are of the view that since the corporation collects holding taxes from the residents, it should spend it on streetlights.

“As the civic body has requested us to spend on streetlights, we will release the amount only when we have sufficient funds,” said chief engineer of the roads and buildings division Bijan Kumar Behera. However, the delay in installing lights is adding to the residents’ woes, especially at night.

“Though road construction is over, absence of streetlights has made life difficult for us. Nearly 20 minor accidents have taken place here in the past two months,” said Rashmi.

The municipal corporation has made an estimate of more than Rs 60 lakh for streetlights on two stretches — Naka Gate Square-Tapoban and Khandagiri Square-Tarini Temple Square.

The estimate also includes a high-mast light for Rs 7.5 lakh at Khandagiri Square.

The civic body has submitted the estimate to the roads and buildings division nearly two months ago.

Sources said that during the last meeting of the city management group, it was decided that the roads and buildings wing would deposit the required amount for streetlights on the stretches.

“Though we have given the estimate nearly two months ago, the roads and buildings wing is yet to deposit the money. Similarly, at the city management group meeting, it was decided that the public works department would deposit the money with the corporation,” said municipal commissioner Sanjib Kumar Mishra.

An official said while the roads and buildings wing was supposed to fund streetlights on roads constructed by them, the civic body was supposed to pay the electric bill for the lights.

Lighting up the streets is a part of Khandagiri’s proposed periphery development programme. The proposal includes widening of some of the stretches near the monument, construction of a police outpost and handing over of the land belonging to state tourism department for a parking lot.

Earlier, for development of the monument, the state government had decided to relocate shops near the area along with closure of the road that passes through the twin hills of Khandagiri and Udayagiri.

But, as the Archaeological Survey of India had failed to issue a notification regarding closure of the road to prohibit vehicular movement, the city management group had also urged the general administration and tourism departments to take up the issue as a top priority.