Despite incurring huge expenditure, the purpose of installing solar photovoltaic street lighting system for the rural populace in Gujarat has been defeated, says the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) that not only found 43 percent of these systems non-functional, but also found several of them installed within the residential premises of elected gram panchayat members or private parties.
The state government had executed the work of installation of solar street lighting systems under the Samras Yojana and MPLAD schemes. During field visits, CAG found that in three gram panchayats — Naglod, Ranela and Shanbar — four of the solar street lighting system were installed in the premises of private parties while in Dehari and (Umargaon) Ranela gram panchayat (Santrampur), it found 15 such systems installed in the residential premises of elected members of gram panchayat which was in contravention to the provisions of the scheme guidelines, stated a CAG report on local bodies that was tabled on the last day of the monsoon session of Assembly Tuesday.
In the 80 gram panchayats that CAG visited it found 43 percent of the solar street lighting systems non-functional due to “non-maintenance” and “lower specification of batteries”. These systems became non-functional within a period of six months to two years from the date of installation.
“Audit further observed that 248 out of the 514 nonfunctional solar photovoltaic street lighting system were purchased by the gram panchayats without warranty clause which resulted in non-replacement and non-repairing of the system by the suppliers. Thus the very purpose of providing street lighting to rural populace was defeated,” the auditor stated in the report.
CAG also pointed out that the e-procurement system introduced by the state government in 2006 for achieving transparency, competitive pricing and shortening of procurement cycle was not used in purchasing the solar systems.