| At a time when most streets in Patna slip into darkness after sunset, commuters found the newly developed modern bus queue shelter in front of Mount Carmel High School a sign of extravagance. The lights at the shelter compensated for the missing ones on Bailey Road on Friday evening. Picture by Jai Prakash |
Defunct streetlights have pushed Patna into the dark alley of insecurity.
Most of the thoroughfares in the city have out-of-use streetlights and several roads lack poles or the apparatus used for installing the lights.
The Telegraph visited four such dark streets — Airport Road, Kurji-Danapur road, Ashiana-Digha road and Sinha Library Road — to assess the ground reality.
Poles for the purpose of streetlights were removed from the median divider of Airport Road last year for undertaking road-widening work. Since then, the road, which marks the entry for fliers coming to the city, remains enveloped in darkness after sunset. Kurji-Danapur road and Ashiana-Digha road don’t even have poles for streetlights.
As a result, commuters are forced to drive their vehicles at a snail’s pace after dark. People often meet with accidents after hitting into the pavement or median divider on these thoroughfares.
The motorists have to be extra cautious to avoid a mishap because they do not have the “luxury” of street lamps.
“I had a miraculous escape a few days ago on my way home. A sudden flash of headlight from a vehicle coming from the opposite direction blinded me for a few seconds. I lost control of my vehicle and hit the pavement,” said Ashok Kumar, a Kurji resident.
The absence of lighting arrangement also pose security problems for people residing in the nearby areas.
“I shifted to my newly constructed house in Digha near Don Bosco Academy in 2012. It has been over two years but I still ask the children and women in my house to avoid going to Ashiana-Digha road after sunset because there is no light at all. I don’t think anybody ever bothered to install the streetlights because the poles for installing them do not exist,” said Digha resident Shyam Sundar Prasad.
There are around 6,000 streetlights in Patna but except for “VIP zones” near the chief minister’s residence, Raj Bhavan, Bailey Road and Hardinge Road, most streets slip into darkness after sunset because of defunct or no streetlights. The condition remained worse in the internal areas of the city. Most residential colonies don’t have poles for installing streetlights.
Till February 2011, Patna Electric Supply Undertaking (Pesu) was taking care of matters related to the maintenance of streetlights through contracts with a private advertisement agency.
Later, the work was handed over to Patna Municipal Corporation but sources said the civic body could not do much of the maintenance work because of dearth in technical manpower (electric engineer and technicians) with them.
Recently the PMC has, however, got five junior engineers from Pesu for regular repair and maintenance of streetlights.
“We have formed several teams for maintenance of streetlights and the engineers from Pesu have been deputed. The teams would visit different areas after fixed intervals and look after the maintenance work,” said Patna municipal commissioner Kuldip Narayan.
With regard to the absence of poles for streetlights on thoroughfares like Airport Road, Narayan said new light-emitting diode (LED) lamps would be installed there by the Bihar Urban Infrastructure Development Corporation (BUIDCo).
BUIDCo has recently commenced the bidding process for installation of 1,100 LED streetlights in the city utilising an estimated outlay of Rs 11.5 crore. The lights would be installed by November.
“The priority in the installation of LED lights by BUIDCo would be those areas, which do not even have poles for streetlights,” said Narayan.