Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said on Tuesday that the delay in installing LED streetlights in Bengaluru had resulted in ‘dark spots’ in the city and also added that three lakh streetlights will be placed by December.
The Chief Minister, who is also in charge of Bengaluru City Development, was responding to a question in the state assembly from Dasarahalli JD(S) MLA R Manjunath about the delay in the project to replace all street lights with energy-efficient LEDs, as well as the inconvenience caused to residents at night due to malfunctioning streetlights. The proposal to replace all streetlights with LEDs was authorised in 2019 and the government handed the work to BSPL, a public-private partnership comprised of Shapoorji Pallonji, SMC Infrastructure and Samudra Electronics Systems.
‘This issue came up when I reviewed projects relating to Bengaluru after taking over as the Chief Minister. I had clearly said during the review that there is a delay in starting the work, it has to start immediately. They (company) have said the project will be completed in five phases, and it is decided that by December 31, three lakh LED bulbs have to be installed,’ Bommai said.
He stated that work has begun in certain areas, but it has yet to begin in others owing to various factors. According to the project agreement, 4.85 lakh street lights in the city’s municipal borders would be replaced with LEDs in five phases over the course of 30 months. Reportedly, energy savings of up to 85% are expected as a result of the project.
In response to Manjunath’s query on what action the government will take if the firm fails, Bommai stated that under the terms of the agreement, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) can apply a penalty of Rs 1 lakh per week if there is a delay or damage.
Ramalinga Reddy, a senior Congress MLA from BTM Layout, pointed out that the issue affects all 28 assembly seats in Bengaluru, saying that constituencies have not received any funding for lighting for the past three years, citing the worldwide tender for the LED project, ‘You can ask any MLA from the city.’ Reddy’s assertion was backed up by BJP MLAs Ravi Subramanya (Basavanagudi) and Arvind Limbavali (Mahadevapura).
‘This was not right,’ the Chief Minister stated, acknowledging that two years of the project were spent on permissions and contracts. ‘This has resulted in many dark spots in all the wards within the BBMP jurisdiction.’
‘I have asked officials to take up all five phases at once immediately and in case of delay, measures will also be taken to re-examine the contract. I will also issue instructions to the BBMP to do repairs and maintenance of existing streetlights,’ he added.