Streetlights play a significant role in keeping roads safe. Proper lighting of streets and neighborhoods is important in detecting potholes, and discouraging criminal activities, pick pocketing, violence and threats against women. Towns, villages and cities of Haryana are in dire need of installing and maintaining streetlights.
According to reports, lack of streetlights has been a perpetual issue with Haryana. There have been reporting of several incidents of communal violence, pick pocketing, illegal transactions, molestation, and other women brutalities taking place in the dark of the night in various locations in the state. Among the many reasons given, one was the dearth of proper lighting in the streets and parks, which made it impossible for locals to help the victim. It is evident that Haryana's residents safety lies in the installation of streetlights in all areas of the state.
In a report published in January 2013, a concerned resident of Palam Vihar, Gurgaon petitioned the government to install streetlights in his area. After campaigning for two years, asking people to sign petitions and involving media for the cause, he succeeded in getting the government's attention. Finally the locality found some illumination. A few months later, in July, another news article highlighted the plight of another area in Gurgaon, where out of 180 streetlights 72 were not functioning. This is a matter of concern for the residents, and also shows the utter lack of maintenance of the streetlights by the civic authorities. In reply to this, the authorities blamed the weather and complained that the contractor did not do his job. How long will the blame game continue before the public authorities start working? Not only does Haryana require streetlight installations, maintenance of these is equally important.
Recently, a building caught fire in Chandigarh and the fire fighters had to put out the fire and attempt at rescuing people in the dark since the streetlights were out of order. This shows that even the capital of Haryana is in a tough situation when it comes to civic maintenance. There is an urgent need for the government to wake up and devise an effective plan for installing and maintaining streetlights.
One of the challenges in providing electricity for street lighting is the fact that Haryana experiences frequent power outages. In this regard, a few years back the government decided to use solar photovoltaic powered streetlights. This was supposed to help decrease the burden of using conventional electricity and reduce continuous power costs. Even though this was a rather innovative initiative by the government, it incurred a huge loss of Rs. 12.65 crores in two years. Installed in 333 villages in Sirsa in Haryana, in 2011, the solar streetlights stopped illuminating in two years. The authorities held the village panchayats and manufacturers responsible for non-maintenance. The blame game, therefore, continues.
Streetlights are considered a primary necessity for the security of an area. It is in fact a part of a basic constitutional right, which is to live in a society free of fear. Haryana deserves streetlights, and the government should be responsible for providing the citizens with this basic right. Along with new streetlight installations, there should also be an effective monitoring system for the maintenance of these lights, so that there is uninterrupted illumination in the Haryana streets.