Every year, Municipal Council of Baramulla gets lakhs of rupees released from the state exchequer for installation of street lights in different parts of the town. The money is either being spent from the local funds or grants from Urban Local Bodies. As per the official’s privy to the purchase of electric goods and installation of lights, the department has spent lakhs of rupees. However, only one item which department forgets to purchase is ladder used for repair or installation of the street lights.
Reason: The two linemen or electricians who have been appointed in the council don’t want to carry wooden ladders instead demand latest vehicle fitted with ladder. Locals say that due to absence of wooden ladder most of the lights have developed snag and many lights are out of order for want of minor repair.
One of the two electricians have been appointed through backdoor by former Director Local Bodies who is also close relative of Education and Finance Minister. The other linemen have also been appointed by neglecting the merit.
‘’Whenever there is snag in any area, these linemen ask people to arrange ladder so that they could check the lights and get them repaired,’’ says Mohammad Shaban, who lives in old city
“Our lights are not working from past two months; we went to the office of Council thrice to get the snag rectified. However, every time there is an alibi from the linemen that department doesn’t have a ladder and they ask us to arrange the ladder so that they could climb the electric poles and remove the snag,’’ he complained. Another local said that he had to beg ladder from electric department for the linemen of the Council. ‘’ Only after we arranged ladder, the linemen came and got the light working. Its irony is that every time we are forced to arrange the ladders for the linemen. Why should we do their work?’’ he questioned.
Locals even complained that there is no accountability about the upkeep of the street lights, in past three years the street lights were installed several times, however, there was no follow-up once these lights developed minor snag. Even street lights with working conditions were removed and new lights were installed. ‘What happened to the lights already installed in the town nobody is aware about those,’’ says Javid Ahmad a resident of uptown Baramulla.
Majority of locals complained that officials seldom take any interest into the upkeep of the lights already installed in various localities of the town; instead they are only bothered about fresh lights. ‘If investigated it could turn into a big scandal,’’ said an official on condition of anonymity. He also said that department could easily get repaired all the old street lights in the town by spending minimal amount of money. ‘’Unfortunately, no official is bothered. They only are looking ways and means to earn money,’’ he alleged.
The locals complained that Municipal Council should appoint two three more linemen so that they could reach to all the wards of the town. ‘We are not against purchase of the latest repair machinery, however, even the existing infrastructure is not been properly utilized. There is no accountability.’’
General Secretary, Traders Federation Baramulla, Tariq Ahmad Mughloo said that the government should appoint more linemen in the Council but the appointments should be made on merit bases.
‘If genuine people are appointed as electricians and given a good equipment and repair machinery, the government doesn’t need to install fresh street lights every year.’’
He said that of late some new lights have been installed in the town; however, there should be proper follow up.
Otherwise many street lights get defunct only after two or three weeks, which is not acceptable. “The officials should also make linemen and other related staff accountable; otherwise, people will have no faith on the Council.”
These Street lights were installed at many vital places of Baramulla town. But to utter surprise of the inhabitants these expensive lights went off within few days and as usual there is no hue and cry on this issue. This is yet another example of institutionalized corruption in Jammu and Kashmir. If reports are to be believed, lacs were withdrawn for the said project. This is loot rather institutionalised loot of Resources. What a shame for the district administration and the government at large.
The other major complaint against the Municipal Council is that they give supply orders for purchase of electric equipment to only one contactor who work on different fake names.
‘If the supply of electric goods supplied to the MC will be investigated, many skeletons will come out from the cupboard and many top officers could lose their jobs and sleep as well.’’