Do we really need these super-slick bus stops?

K. JAVEED NAYEEM writes: As all of us have noticed, the humble bus stops that we had all over the City have started undergoing some drastic cosmetic changes. This is due to the new policy of the City Corporation in allowing them to become sources of good revenue through paid advertisements.

Until very recent times bus stops were just staid, charmless places, announcing meaning-less bus timings where seemingly bored people stood under a concrete shelter cursing their seemingly endless wait. But now they have become very bright and colourful with translit plastic boards all around, announcing the virtues of the new products or services of the advertising sponsors.

It is a different matter though that I have still not noticed any marked change in the dull expressions on the faces of all those who stand and wait there!

Nevertheless, from the increasing difficulty that I face every passing day in avoiding angry buses while driving around the city, I have naturally surmised that the number of city buses has certainly increased, making waiting for them a little less painful. However, the priorities behind this ‘plastic surgery’ of our bus shelters seem rather lopsided.

Last Tuesday night I happened to see one bus stop in the process of such a make-over (in picture, above).

It was getting a set of exactly thirty-three fluorescent tube lights of 40 watts each.

Now, this translates into 1,280 watts of electricity consumption per hour, which to me seems rather wasteful considering the fact that each bus stop is illuminated for almost five hours every day. Although our government can easily say that the sponsors pay for it very willingly, can we as an energy-strapped nation afford it?

In an environmental sense, electricity does not come cheap to us considering the strain its generation imposes on our already scarce natural resources like coal and oil. Is this kind of progress not totally unmindful of the future?

Year after year, for almost half the year, we regularly go through an energy crisis that cripples our industrial production and puts every housewife and student to much inconvenience with untimely power cuts, especially during exam time. We curse our fate and the summer heat alike, both at home and the office and yet we never learn the simple lessons that life tries to teach us.

I think our government should look a little beyond just its ledger books while giving permission to business enterprises, shops and especially malls, our new found pride, to indulge in the wasteful use of electricity. We can certainly cut our energy use in half if we do this and this can be the best that we can do for our planet and our progeny.

(K. Javeed Nayeem is a practising physician who writes a weekly column in Star of Mysore, where a longer version of this piece appeared)