Streetlights in Nerul awaiting illumination for 5 long years

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JOSEPH PINTO | NT
Nerul: Five years after widening of a stretch of road leading to the Nerul bridge, constructing a footpath and installing streetlights, the stretch of road is yet to be illuminated.  
According to locals, ex-tourism minister and ex-Saligao MLA Dilip Parulekar had undertaken the road-widening work near the Nerul bridge, which was narrow. The road is being used by many tourists to travel to Candolim and the stretch witnesses traffic jams frequently.
The work undertaken included construction of a retaining wall, footpath, widening of the stretch of road and installation of streetlights. However, five years after the work was taken up, these streetlights are yet to be illuminated, said locals.
Similar beautification has also been done at Guirim, Saligao and Pilerne but the streetlights installed at these locations are functioning.
According to locals, the widened road stretch has been encroached upon by kiosks. Sources in the panchayat said the Collector has instructed the public works department to remove the kiosks, as the panchayat has not provided any licence to the kiosk owners.
Nerul village panchayat sarpanch Reshma Kalangutkar said the streetlights near the bridge have not been illuminated since the last five years and added that this is wastage of public funds by the tourism department. The electricity department is yet to release connection to the streetlights, she said.
“But the electricity department is providing connection to the kiosks, which have not been provided any no-objection certificate (NOC) by the panchayat. Locals have misused the diversion of house number from one ward to another to obtain illegal connection for their kiosks,” she alleged.
She said the panchayat has written to all the kiosk owners to get mobile carts to the panchayat for inspection following which the NOC would be issued. “All kiosks near the Nerul bridge, which are more than 40, are illegal,” she said.
The sarpanch said the village panchayat is not in a position to pay streetlight bills to the electricity department. An electricity bill of Rs 1 lakh concerning old panchayat ghar is yet to be paid by the panchayat, which does not have the required funds, according to the sarpanch. She said the government has not paid octroi duty with regard to the Nerul petrol pump for the last three years.
When the electricity department was contacted, assistant engineer Benny admitted to the department’s mistake and said connection has not been released to the streetlights, as nobody brought it to the department’s notice. “It is our mistake and we will provide the electricity connection,” he said and added that payment of the electricity bills regarding all streetlights is usually done by the panchayats all over the state.
Regarding the allegation that the department has released electricity connection to the kiosks near the Nerul bridge, the assistant engineer said that some kiosks were provided the connection before. He said, at present, the department releases temporary connections based on NOC from the panchayat.