THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Even as the government plans to throw open the tourism sector in the state by October, Kovalam, a popular tourist destination has turned into a scary spot after dusk due to the lack of streetlights on many stretches. Except for the few solar lights functioning near the beach, street lights set up by the Tourism Department have been non-functional for close to four months, posing a great threat to the residents and pedestrians.
The stretch from the junction to the beach plunges into darkness by 6.30pm and the area gets deserted. For shopkeepers already in distress due to the decline in business, the situation is posing a greater challenge as people hesitate to come out of their homes after 6pm.All the shops on the stretch to the beach close down by 7pm. “It is hard to see a single person on road after sundown. Women and the few foreigners staying here are frightened to come out at night. The working streetlights are the ones installed by the panchayat on pocket roads and some parts of the main road. Even if the shops are allowed to function till 9pm from October, we fear that no will come to this area until the street lights are repaired,” says M Rashid, a shopkeeper.
Several residents found a fault with the Tourism Department for its complacency in solving the issue despite undertaking maintenance work at regular intervals. According to Kovalam SHO P Anil Kumar, the matter has been brought to the notice of Tourism Department officials. “We have requested the department to repair the lights soon. Kovalam may witness a good rush of domestic visitors when tourists spots are reopened. However, the absence of streetlights will deter travellers in exploring the town. Though we have been conducting regular patrolling, antisocial elements make the best use of the dark,” adds Anil Kumar.
Lights will be back
“Many of the streetlights got damaged due to lightning and rain. Repair work was delayed as the annual maintenance contract (AMC) couldn’t be renewed in January due to the Covid-19 pandemic. There are around 257 streetlights under our jurisdiction in Kovalam. The contract is waiting for the tourism director’s approval. Once okayed, maintenance work will commence immediately. We hope that lights will be restored fully before the tourism season begins,” said Prem Bhas, tourism information officer, Kovalam.