Saturday, April 25, 2009


Two elderly Bangaloreans, during their morning walk every day, take the pains to switch off street lights that are on despite enough daylight. It should be both a warning and inspiration to all of us who casually waste so much energy

Global warming and energy crises are no longer abstract threats. They resonate with ordinary people as well as they do with the academically well-informed. Every bit of energy saved today will count in the future and this view is what drives two Bangaloreans to do their mite for the coming generations.
During their morning walk every day, M G Prabhakar and P Abdul Wahab, two senior citizens from J P Nagar and Rajajinagar respectively, have made it a point to switch off street lights that remain on.
Prabhakar (59), Chairman, Energy Committee, Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI), said that he was inspired by an old man who used to regularly switch off street lights. “During my morning walks, I switch off street lights in J P Nagar II phase. I have not counted how many lights I put off but I switch off the street lights if I find there is enough natural light,” he said.
Wahab (67), who is retired, walks around 10 kilometers every morning. He starts walking around 6 am and wherever he finds a street light on, he takes the trouble to switch it off. “I have been doing it for the last seven years.” “Before I started this habit, I used to see many street lights still on despite abundant natural light. I did not know whether anyone could switch them off or whether personnel from Bescom were the only ones authorised to do so,” he said.
Then one day, he found a Bescom lineman repairing a street light and asked him whether anyone else could switch off a street light. The lineman said yes. “Thereafter, I made it a practice to put off street lights if found on,” Wahab said. “Usually I switch off around 35 to 40 street lights in the morning. And during winter season, I start my morning walk a bit late and do the same if I come across the street lights which are on,” he added.
What bothered Wahab was that neither Bescom nor BBMP seemed concerned about such waste of precious energy. “I do not know how much electricity has been saved by my small action. But I feel I have contributed something to society,” he said.
Prabhakar, who is an energy expert himself, said that there is a serious problem with energy and water. He felt that social awareness should increase and that the smallest action will lead to enormous changes. He suggested that Bescom should go for prepaid meters for all the street lights. “These prepaid meters which are available for a meagre amount can be programmed for the street lights to get automatically on during dark and automatically off during day light. The government can select any one particular area for a pilot study and can see the amount of energy saved in just one month,” he said.
A Bescom officer said that the BBMP maintains street lights and it’s their personnel who have to switch on and off street lights. However, it is not illegal if the general public takes responsibility in doing so wherever necessary, he said. In fact, in many areas of the city, street lights are on till 7 am, sometimes as long as 8 am, and residents often take turns to switch them off.
The Bescom charges a flat rate of Rs 150 per street light. In case of metered bills, the rates would be reduced by 30-40 per cent from the regular flat rates. Most street lights in the city are metered.
In Bangalore, there are 34,252 electricity poles which use total connected load of 92,629 kilo watts. If a street light is switched off for an hour, it will save 2.9 units of power.


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