City lights keep villages in dark

KOLKATA, 28 MAY: At a time when about 60 per cent rural households in the state do not have electricity, the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) is setting up 50,000 trident lamps just to decorate the city leading to electricity consumption enough to light up another 32,000 households.
According to the 2011 Census, about 60 per cent rural households in the state still use kerosene lamps to light up their homes while 15 per cent of urban households still does not have electricity. Each trident lamp uses 54 watts of electricity per hour. A household of four members needs 200 watts of electricity to run a TV, four light bulbs and a fan for 5 hours.
Moreover, several trident lights are feared to become defunct during the monsoons as unlike sodium vapour lamps, the glass casing of these lamps is tilted skyward and so the chance of water seeping through the casing is high.
The trident lamps, that cost about Rs 20,000 each, are not even very bright when it comes to illumination and have to be put up along with the sodium vapour lamps inflating the electricity bill of the KMC by almost Rs 30 crore per annum. The KMC had been struggling to pay its dues to the Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation (CESC) to the tune of Rs 200 crore. Several city environmentalists have slammed the civic authorities for taking such a step as it would also spell a doom for birds and insects as bright lamps at night would disrupt the entire life cycles of the creatures. High-power lights set up at different places distract birds and disrupt their migratory routes, often ending up killing them. Similarly, it also kills thousands of species of insects.
“While some special places like the banks of Ganga or some parks of special importance could be decorated with such lamps, putting up these lights anywhere and everywhere should be avoided. It also adds to pollution and energy crisis,” said Mr Shashanka Dev, an environmentalist on behalf of Sabuj Mancha, an NGO.
If a lamp glows for 10 hours everyday, the existing 20,000 posts on our streets would produce 44,530 tons of carbon dioxide every year. The city already emits 93 lakh tons of Carbon di-Oxide every year.

Soma Basu (The Statesman)

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