Fountain fixtures, genset wires go missing in Delhi in G20 puzzle for officials

Aug 31, 2023 01:07 AM IST

Some of the goods nicked, such as a sensor unit for a fountain near Pragati Maidan, are as expensive as ₹2.5 lakh, but some, like nozzles, cost little

Thieves in the national capital have set their sights on installations put up in and around New Delhi ahead of the G20 Summit, stealing high-end lights, copper wires and even cheap, minor fittings like nozzles, said officials of the state Public Works Department (PWD).

Officials said that rubber nozzles were stolen from a fountain at Bhairon Marg. (Sanjeev Verma/HT Photo)
Officials said that rubber nozzles were stolen from a fountain at Bhairon Marg. (Sanjeev Verma/HT Photo)

The thefts set back efforts to give the city a facelift in the run-up to the crucial meeting of global leaders, the officials added.

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In the weeks since the makeover drive began around parts of New Delhi and central Delhi, PWD officials said they have filed 50 complaints with the police, but to little avail, giving the agencies a fresh headache less than two weeks before several world leaders and hundreds of delegations are expected to land in the national capital.

“Such incidents are not ending. In some cases, multiple thefts have occurred at the same site,” said a PWD official, who asked not to be named.

Some of the goods nicked, such as a sensor unit for a fountain installed near Pragati Maidan, are as expensive as 2.5 lakh, but some, such as nozzles, cost little in the scrap market, said officials.

Another popular choice for thieves is the brass nozzles on fountains, installed at crossings, they said.

“The sensor unit was stolen the day it was installed. In scrap, the unit will be sold for less than 500, but the loss to the public exchequer is still steep,” said the official cited above.

Further, the thefts – even if minor, in some instances – have delayed a major drive to renovate streets, footpaths and other public spaces, ahead of the G20 Summit on September 9 and 10.

Over the past five months, the agency has installed 30 fountains in various parts of the Capital, including at Delhi Gate, around India Gate, near Rajghat as well as on the Dhaula Kuan stretch.

PWD officials said the thefts have hindered fountains and lights installed along the periphery of the Pragati Maidan area, Ring Road, Salimgarh Fort, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg and ITO.

Officials overseeing the drive, which is now in its final phase, said the brass nozzles are the most commonly stolen fixtures, followed by copper wires.

PWD field workers and police personnel have been asked to keep a strict vigil over the new installation over the next 10 days, apart from their usual duties.

Sanjay Kumar Sain, deputy commissioner of police (central) said, “Complaints related to such thefts have been received recently and beat staff have been told to be watchful of antisocial elements and increase night patrols. Such complaints have been filed in Daryaganj and IP Estate police stations.”

HT on Wednesday reported that police personnel in the city have also been given the extra task of keeping a watch on flowerpots put up by the streetsides at over 60 spots in the city and keep them from being stolen.

Drivers who stop their vehicles beside footpaths with installed pots will also be pulled up, said officers.

Nearly 400,000 flowering plants have already been installed and the rest will be put up by the first week of September, so that the flowers are in full bloom during the G20 leaders’ meeting in the national capital.

The greening effort is being monitored by the office of lieutenant governor (LG) VK Saxena, who headed a preparatory meeting last week with the agencies involved in the project.

A second PWD official also said that copper wires were stolen from diesel generator sets near Sunder Nagar, disrupting decorative lights put along Mathura Road.

“Copper is expensive and can be easily resold to the scrap dealers. In several cases near Sunder Nagar and Red Fort, the wires have been cut off multiple times. Most cable thefts were reported from around Yamuna Bazar, Hanuman Setu, Nigambodh Ghat and Ring Road. In one case, the aluminum wires used to illuminate the walls of the Salimgarh Fort were stolen,” the official added, asking not to be named.

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