BEST was in dark about Christmas eve blackout

On Christmas eve, roads between Regal Cinema in Colaba and Kalaghoda plunged into darkness after streetlights stopped working. The lights were gone for about three hours but officials of the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking responsible for streetlighting in the island city seemed unaware.

Kedar Hombalkar, a member on the BEST committee, brought the matter to light at the panel meeting on Wednesday morning and informed the administration about the blackout on the streets between 8.15 pm and 11.15 pm on Monday.

"It was Christmas eve and there were people on the streets. Looking at the Delhi gangrape and the 26/11 shootings in Mumbai, an important area of the city remaining unlit for so long without the administration knowing about it is a serious threat," said Hombalkar, who belongs to the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena.

Being flanked by government offices and institutes, there is no light from the nearby buildings to light up the stretch and streetlights are the only source of light at night.

Hombalkar said he called up seniormost officials of the electric supply division and they were taken by surprise at the news of a blackout on the streets. "They told me they will get back to me with more information later, but no one called me back. We need to improve our disaster management systems," he added.

General Manager OP Gupta, who was also caught unawares, said he will probe the matter and take action to prevent any such incidents. "It is a serious issue. Three hours of streetlight blackout is not acceptable, especially when there is no major fault anywhere in the area," Gupta said.

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