Street light robbery in Chennai? – Times of India

Chennai News
CHENNAI: The city corporation is procuring controller devices for group monitoring of street lights at more than double the going rate.
The device Greater Chennai Corporation is procuring for nearly `57,000 (`44,786 plus an additional `12,000 for 5-year maintenance), TOI found, was being fitted in cities such as Coimbatore, New Delhi, Ahmedabad and Bengaluru for half the rate. “We have so far fitted 1.1 crore devices in various states at `20,000 a piece plus GST charges including seven-year maintenance,” said a representative of Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a public limited company under the Union power ministry.

A corporation engineer said the contract was handed over to Sabhari Electricals and the brand used are Schnell and SPowerZ Solutions Pvt Ltd. They sourced the equipment from a company named Sri Bhoomi Durga. “This is higher than the market rate. Many of us raised objections. Coimbatore corporation bought each device for around `24,000,” said the engineer.
Each device, fitted to a pillar box, controls 40-50 street lights. The lights can be switched on or off remotely and controlled with the help of GPRS technology and specific software linking the device to dashboard/web portals at headquarters and mobile applications with engineers. If the device goes on the blink, a text message and a surge protector will ensure the engineer concerned is informed.
Sri Bhoomi Durga vice-president Sampath Kumar wrote to TOI saying each device cost `44,100. The corporation is procuring it for `44,786 plus the maintenance cost. “Usually, a device comes with a minimum 3-5 year warranty… But this device’s warranty is only for a year. How can the civic body waste public money like this,” asked an engineer.
Chief engineer P Duraisamy of the electrical department said the company was selected after an open tender, while superintendent engineer R Vijayalakshmi said the higher cost was due to the different technical specifications. However TOI confirmed with the company and EESL that the same device was being fit across the country. “The corporation agency can easily procure from EESL that provides seven years free maintenance. Why waste so much money? Spending `40 crore for a `20 crore project makes no sense. This is mainly to appease the local contractors,” said Arappor Iyakkam’s convenor Jayaram Venkatesan.
A corporation engineer said that under the Rs 40 crore project funded by Germany’s KfW bank for LED lamp posts in added areas, out of the 30,000, about 500 were put up on encroached land and on land not belonging to the corporation. “The electrical department is preparing tenders for annual maintenance for added areas which will cost about `6 crore. This can be reduced if permanent staff are employed. But they want to award contracts and get commission,” said an official.