Passing through Guwahati’s VIP road after sunset can be tricky as about 250-300 street lights on the road are not functional, making it difficult for the public to commute through the area.
Although the ‘VIP’ Road is an important road in the city that connects Six Mile and Narengi and has a number of community halls, hospitals, marriage halls besides residential blocks, the area submrges in utter darkness at night in absence of street lights.
The entire stretch of about 11 km turns grim after sunset as streets lights remain defunct. It is a major problem for city dwellers as the absence of street lights may trigger anti-social activities in the area, which poses a threat to women and men alike.
There are also instances of accidents occurring on the road due to lack of a proper street lighting system.
“It has been a problem for us since a long time. We as women are more concerned of our safety as sometimes we get late coming from work. Without street lights, it feels jittery and unsafe to walk on the footpath,” Rajani Chetia, a local said.
According to the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Act 1971, the installation and maintenance of these street lights are supposed to be done by the civic body. Later, the Public Works Department (PWD) also joined in.
“Concerned authorities should work on maintaining these street lights. Guwahati cannot become a smart city until safety and security is ensured,” a female student said.
The Smart City project started in Guwahati early in 2016 after the city was selected as one of the first 20 such projects in India (ranked 17th), winning a contest between all the major cities in the country.
The 11km road has streetlights at 20-metre intervals, but none of them works.
Lack of proper monitoring and absence of staff to take care of issues related to street lighting are considered to be the main problem for the darkness that engulfs the street after sunset.
“Whenever a festival or an event is hosted here, the road is adorned with lights and decorations. The street plunges into darkness after the event is over,” a local resident, who didn’t want to be named, claimed.