Sopore: It has been seven years since the street lights in Sopore town in north Kashmir have been rendered defunct but the administration shows no signs of wake up from slumber. Soon after the sundown, the town plunges into complete darkness due to lack of street illumination.
“It is scary and dangerous to walk in the evenings in Sopore. The shopkeepers shut early because there is no light and dogs are the only ones left to roam on the streets,” Riyaz Ahmad, a main chowk shopkeeper told Kashmir Reader.
“It appears that Sopore town has been deliberately left at the receiving end due to the people’s pro-freedom stance,” Ahmad said.
“The top officials, including the ministers never visit the main town. They always visit the adjoining villages for developmental works,” he said.
According to the data provided by the town’s municipal committee, 44 street lights were first erected in Sopore town in 2010. There are presently 520 street lights, 46 sodium vapour lights, 213 Halogen lights, 117 LED lights and 150 bulbs. Out of these, 444 are non-functional.
An official Fayaz Ahmed blamed stone-pelting incidents for the sordid state of affairs. “Many lights were destroyed because of stone-pelting. The department does not have resources to fix them,” he said. He said the issue was discussed in every district administration meeting but to no avail. “Last year, we requested the administration to release Rs 13 lacs for the installation of new lights and repairs of the old ones, but till date, no amount has been released.”
Executive officer of the comittee GM Lone was not in his office for comment.
According to the general secretary of the civil society of Sopore town, Rayees Ahmad, the street lights project had been handed over to the Sopore power department after the lights were first installed. The municipal department was supposed to look after the lights subsequently but they left the project unattended.
Only 105 LED lamps erected in different neighbourhoods of Sopore town are functional. The rest – the main lights in the markets, roads and other public places – remain dysfunctional, Rayees Ahmad observed.
The sub-district magistrate of Sopore town, Sandeep Singh, denied that the lights were dysfunctional. He said 75 flash lights, 105 bulbs and 150 new lights would be erected and made operational very soon.