Muggings Increase in Indian City as Lighting Disputes Leaves Areas in the Dark

Indian government policies are spurring a nationwide LED streetlight upgrade, but parts of Mangalore, Karnataka remain in the dark leading to higher crime rates, as disputes between government organizations over what lighting to install in the industrial park continue, reported NYOOZ.

At the root of the problem is The Baikampady Main Road to Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board (KIADB) office has completed a tender to install 145 sodium vapor lights in the Baikampady industrial area, but Kanara Small Industries Association (KSIA), an organization affiliated with the local  Chambers of Commerce, is opting for LED streetlights to cut energy bills.

Cost of the KIADB sodium vapor tender was INR 2.5 million (US $), but swapping to next generation LED bulbs would add another INR 1.5 million to the installation bill, said PS Prakash, development manager, KIADB.

"When the city is moving towards becoming a Smart City, we too want smart solutions to save power. Sodium vapour lighting is 15-year-old technology and LED is the latest,” said KSIA president Henry CF Britto. “Yes, when LED bulbs came, they were prohibitively expensive but now it's on a par with sodium vapour. The major problem is with the Scheduled Rates (SR) of PWD which is high for LED."

The SR for LEDs were placed at highly ridiculous rates two years ago, and do not reflect the recent changes in LED retail prices, said KSIA Vice President Gaurav Hegde. Previous rates estimated 40W LED was at INR 12,000, and 70W LED light at INR 18,000. Far above the current rates. At the moment a 150W sodium vapor light is priced at INR 3,200 and 250W might cost INR 4,500, and a 40W or 70W equiv. LED would cost in the range of INR 3,500 to INR 5,500.

According to Hegde the power bill using sodium vapor lights will cost about INR 160,000 per month, but LEDs would cost only about a 37.5% at INR 60,000, and save KIADB INR 100,000 in power bills.

Hedge said notifications has been sent to the additional principal secretary who has informed the CEO of KIADB, who has asked the chief development officer to investigate the matter.

It is hoped the streetlight issue can be resolved soon, dark streets have resulted in rising muggings recently.

One night shift worker was recently threatened at sword point by three suspects riding on a two-wheeler to hand over his smartphone, and hit on the back during the twilight hours of 5:30 AM when the area was still dark, said the victim’s friend.

Drug addicts and others have been responsible for muggings in the area, and lack of illumination near Railway Gate is only helping them, said Britto.

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