Despite the political controversy surrounding the installation of Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) streetlights along Mumbai’s landmark Marine Drive, the Maharashtra government has set a target of one year for changing all streetlights in its tier 1 and 2 cities to LEDs.
Chandrashekhar Bawankule, state’s energy minister, said the government would send notices to all municipal corporations and councils across Maharashtra to change the streetlights in their jurisdiction to the energy-efficient LEDs from the conventional incandescent lamps.
There are 26 municipal corporations and 226 municipal councils in the state.
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“We expect that changing the streetlights to LEDs will in commercial terms result in savings of about 50 per cent of the current usage. The procurement cost of a LED has also drastically reduced to about Rs 70-80 per unit. We will instruct all municipal corporations and councils in the state to install LED streetlights in the next one year,” the BJP leader said.
The BJP-led government at the Centre has been aggressively promoting LEDs for streetlights as well as for households, claiming significant energy savings. The move, however, has drawn flak from political parties in Maharashtra, including the Shiv Sena, which had in its mouthpiece Saamana alleged corruption and irregularities in the procurement of the LEDs for the Marine Drive project. The parties started protesting after the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation changed streetlights on the Marine Drive boulevard to white LEDs from the yellow sodium vapour bulbs that had defined the Queen’s necklace for years.
An LED bulb, in which electrical energy directly converts into light energy, uses one-sixth of the energy used by an incandescent light. LEDs have a longer life span and are easier to maintain, but the high initial investment is a dampener.
According to the model proposed, the local bodies will bear the entire cost of setting up LED streetlights, an official source said. The lights will be set up in coordination with the Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL), which comprises four public sector undertakings – NTPC, PFC, REC and Power Grid – and has been established with the mandate of implementing energy-efficient projects in the country.
“EESL will procure the LEDs through global tendering for the municipal corporations and councils and install them on the streetlights. For the first seven years, the electricity bill payments will go to EESL after which the licensed electricity distribution company in the area will take over,” the official added.
The time-frame for changing streetlights across the state to LEDs and encouraging individual households to use the energy-saving lights will be elaborated as part of the state’s larger policy on energy saving, expected to be unveiled later this month.
Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal had earlier said that changing streetlights to LEDs from the existing sodium vapour bulbs in Mumbai itself will result in savings of Rs 80 crore a year. The much-controversial switch at the landmark Marine Drive promenade alone will save Rs 36 lakh annually, Goyal had said.