| A lamp post in central Calcutta has its new digit code painted on it. Picture by Aranya Sen
The silver-grey writing on the lamp post is small ' a serial number from the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) ' but significant.
For, this digit denotes the first step taken by the civic body in a three-pronged action plan to ensure that the city streets are not plunged into darkness, post-sunset.
The CMC initiative to give 1.2 lakh lamp posts in the city ' from Sinthee to Behala ' a code number follows a Metro campaign in end-March highlighting how some of the busiest streets around town were dark and dangerous.
The civic authorities had then promised to ensure a step-by-step programme ' from marking to maintenance ' to ensure that street lights were repaired 'within no more than 30 hours'.
And that exercise has just begun from Borough 6 (the CMC headquarters zone), with posts being numbered for easy identification and quick repair.
'The numbering will be done in such a manner that decoding it will readily identify the ward and the feeder pillar from which that particular lamp post gets its power supply,' municipal commissioner Alapan Bandyopadhyay told Metro on Friday.
Operation Numbering will be split into two phases, stretching over six months. First, each post will be given a serial number and then the feeder post number and the ward number will be put down.
All particulars will then be fed into the computer of a control room for reference, retrieval and repair.
'A toll-free number will be made operational for residents to take note of the lamp post code where the lights are out, dial the complaint line and activate the repair process,' said mayoral council member (lighting) Sushil Sharma.
For example, if a citizen feeds into the automatic fault-booking system the code number 7/2/46, an overseer in the civic lighting department will trace post no. 7, being supplied power from feed post no. 2, in ward 46, to its exact location by the click of a mouse.
According to chief engineer (lighting) Pradipjyoti Biswas, the total number of feeder pillars in the city will be around 1,000 with a single ward having no more than 50.
The reasons for street light blackout can range from snapping of filament to faulty socket to loose connection to lack of power supply from the feeder post, pointed out Biswas.
Also on the subject of street lights, the civic lighting department has decided to experiment with 'solar lights and power-saver lamps'.
Two private companies have submitted proposals for solar-powered street lights in the city.
The CMC buys 50,000 lamps a year and is now trying to cut its power costs by replacing them with 'power-saver lamps' in a phased manner.