Heavy rains lashed Delhi on Friday evening, bringing the national capital to a virtual halt with familiar scenes of waterlogged roads, chocked sewers and long lines of vehicles in traffic snarls.
The heavy showers started around 2.30 pm and according to the Met Office, Delhi received 74 mm of rainfall in just two hours. The downpour brought the day temperature down to 22 degrees Celsius, an official at the Safdarjung Meteorological Office said.
Within an hour of the showers, there was chaos on the Delhi streets with reports of waterlogging on several arterial roads, delayed flights, red lights going on the blink and chocked drains.
Flights out of the national capital were either rescheduled or cancelled. A portion of the new domestic terminal building was also damaged due to the rain.
"The sudden downpour required us to first divert all incoming flights," said an official at the Air Traffic Control. "We also advised all airlines to hold outgoing flights till the conditions improve."
"In this downpour, a small portion of the roof above Terminal 1D caved in. No one was injured in the incident," the official said, adding that the damage was not significant.
Traffic policemen were seen struggling to manage the traffic at several places as several cars and buses broke down, leading to serpentine traffic jams.
People returning home from offices were stranded on waterlogged roads for hours.
"The most affected areas are Vikas Marg, Kalyanpuri, Trilokpuri, Noida Mode, Mayur Vihar, India Gate, ITO, Lajpat Nagar, Moolchand, Dhaula Kuan, New Delhi area, Kashmiri Gate, Lodhi Road, Karol Bagh, Punjabi Bagh, Vikas Puri, Rajghat, Nizamuddin, and Pitampura," said a senior traffic police official.
Neha Singh, a college student, said: "I am stuck at the India Gate circle for the last two hours. The traffic is not moving at all and I do not know how long will it take for me to reach home."
Many trees fell in some parts of the city due to heavy rains that were accompanied by strong winds. On Ashoka Road and near the India Gate, tree branches were snapped and fell on passing vehicles, causing them heavy damages.
"I am stuck for the last two hours at Moolchand flyover. I don't understand why every time it rains our civic system gives in. Why aren't the authorities doing something to tackle this problem?" said Shivam Singh, a software engineer.
Due to heavy rains, traffic signals at several intersections stopped working.
"Traffic personnel are deployed at all important intersections to manage the traffic irrespective of whether the red lights are working or not, as roads in many parts of the capital are flooded," said a senior traffic police official.
Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan was also stranded at the party headquarters as there was waterlogging after the rains.
Airport roof falls
You don’t expect to get wet inside an airport, no matter how hard it’s raining outside. But passengers at the state-of-the-art departure terminal 1D experienced that on Friday, when a portion of the roof collapsed, unable to withstand the squall. The Rs. 500-crore (Rs 5 billion) structure gave in, partially at least. The older terminals – 1A and 1B – weathered it all much better. Flights were also affected as take-offs were cancelled and incoming carriers were diverted to nearby airports.
Delhi roads can’t handle this kind of rain. Commuters were stuck in traffic for anything between one and five hours. Those who could, dumped their vehicles and walked, others just sat in their vehicles and steamed. Traffic on Shanti Path, Outer Ring Road, near ITO, Rohini and, in fact, all over the city either crawled or didn’t move at all. Every time it rains now, traffic is the first casualty. When did you last hear anyone rave about driving in the rain? Not in this city. Not any more.
Roads cave in
A part of Raisina Road, barely a kilometre from Parliament, turned into a massive crater as if a meteor had fallen there. It just caved in, as rainwater washed away the silt from under the tarred surface. It had been closed for traffic a long time because of Metro construction and had been reopened just two days ago. Another road caved in in Shadipur in West Delhi, and there were reports of roads and flyovers being damaged in other parts of the city also. Mercifully, no one was injured.