Why Bhopal is prone to waterlogging and why authorities have failed over the decades to create an efficient drainage system that allows proper channelisation of rainwater?
At a time when authorities are planning to transform Bhopal into a smart city, people and experts want to know the answer to the question.
Smart city, poor planning
Despite spending a huge amount on urban infrastructure and planning over the years, the question emerges why Bhopal still remains susceptible to waterlogging within a few hours of heavy showers.
The recent rainfall has once again exposed how waterlogging and flooding remains the major problem for city residents during the rainy season, endangering lives of people in the low-lying areas.
The death of six people in the city on Saturday in rain-related incidents is a grim reminder that everything is not fine with the rain preparedness and authorities’ ability to deal with the emergency that arises due to heavy rainfall in the city of lakes. The city with more than 2 million people has just 12 dewatering pumps.
According to experts, one of the reasons for waterlogging in Bhopal was due to city’s geographical character, especially its slopes. Bhopal slopes towards north and southeast.
Hillocks of different altitudes are situated along the southwest and northwest parts of the urban area, forming a continuous belt from the Singarcholi up to the Vindhyachal range, to an elevation of 625 metres.
This leads to dense urban growth in some areas, putting more burdens on that area. Due to slopes in Bhopal, rainwater water flows fast towards low-lying areas, creating water-logging and flooding.
Nearly two-thirds of city does not have a proper sewerage system
Another reason is that nearly two-thirds of the city does not have a proper sewerage system, especially the peripheral areas. Even the existing drainage system is stifled by encroachments.
The Bhopal Municipal Corporation has failed miserably to remove these encroachments, which create bottlenecks in nallahs, leading to waterlogging and flooding every year.
Besides there is no stormwater drain network for the entire city, it exists in a limited area, according to authorities. The BMC has drawn up a `2,200 crore detailed project report for setting up a sewerage network and a `1,200 crore for setting up a stormwater drain network. But both the mega-projects are yet to get operational on ground.
“We have failed to check waterlogging as we have not been able to create an integrated sewerage network or stormwater drainage network for the entire city, BMC commissioner Chhavi Bhardwaj says.
The impediments in the form choked drains and encroachments in the nallahs contribute significantly in water logging as they prevent free flow of rainwater.
“For creating sewerage network for the entire city, we require more than Rs 2,200 crore and for setting up stormwater drain network, we require more than Rs 1,200 crore,” Bhardwaj added.
Large part of central Bhopal discharges storm runoff into the Upper Lake and the Lower Lake. In New Bhopal, the drainage is provided mainly by Katsi nallah, which flows for about 8 km before meeting the Shahpura Lake.
There should be an integrated approach towards setting up of a sewerage and stormdrain network across the city
There should be a survey of nallahs and drains to find out what can be done to improve the flow of rainwater
Authorities should identify regular flood spots in the city to find the reasons leading to such flooding
Authorities should identify major encroachments over nallahs and drains and remove them at the earliest
There should be regular cleaning of drains and nullahs to ensure free flow of rainwater.
(By social activist Abdul Jabbar)