One would expect that Tura, the second largest town in Meghalaya and the biggest in Garo Hills, would be a model town when it came to basic amenities like water, electricity and the like.
Now imagine one’s shock when you decide to venture to the commercial part of the town one evening after sunset. The streets that greet you are totally black apart from the lights that emanate from the shops and stalls in the main market.
Tura is part of the constituency of Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma (South Tura) and senior National People’s Party leader and former Rajya Sabha MP Thomas Sangma (North Tura). They cannot be totally blamed as it is now close to a decade since streetlights really shone through Tura town.
The town has been reeling in darkness with almost all streetlights either defunct or not working because the bills have not been paid. You can also add vandalism to the mix after almost all the solar lights that had been set up in a drive by the previous Congress-led government were literally smashed wherever they had been set up.
Earlier, the dark streets had literally become dens for drug pushers and alcoholics.
The matter of the missing streetlights had been raised with the district administration, which had promised that it was being looked into earnestly. However, with rising bills that are yet to be paid, the situation is such that all such street lighting in Tura faces the danger of being completely switched off.
“Renovation of the solar lighting is being undertaken by the Urban Affairs Department, which is a welcome sign. On the matter of the other streetlights, there is a huge amount of liability in pending power bills. This is being taken up at the Shillong level and we have requested them not to disconnect us,” informed Deputy Commissioner Ram Singh.
Earlier, 275 solar streetlights had been set up to light up the streets of Tura. Currently, almost all of them remain in darkness.
“We hope the streetlight situation improves for Tura as this shows the region in very poor light. Street lighting is important not only from a tourism standpoint but also for the safety and security of residents. The government needs to put more stress on getting this back to normal as soon as possible for the sake of all,” said a Tura resident, AM Marak.