As much as parched Delhi is longing for rain relief, the nightmare of waterlogged roads is staring in its face.
Though the municipal corporations claiming to be desilting the drains for the past months, official data suggests nearly 70% work has been completed. But questions are already being raised over the veracity of the claims.
Questioning the delay, senior leaders said officials had been asked to finish cleaning of drains in time for monsoon.
“We have asked the officials to ensure that desilting is completed before June 30. We have asked senior officials to deploy more machines and employees in every ward to ensure that what is happening for several years is not repeated this year,” said Rajesh Bhatia, deputy chairman, North Delhi Municipal Corporation.
Monsoon is expected to arrive in Delhi by June-end.
The municipal corporations spend a little over R240 crore annually on desilting, cleaning of the drains, including the payment of salaries to the workers, transportation, etc. The promise of waterlogging-free monsoon is made each year but it is never delivered.
Fed up with the constant flooding of the city roads, the high court had ordered the civic agencies last year to ensure that the city remains waterlogging-free.
Senior leaders in the municipal corporations said the data being provided is merely eyewash. They claimed there are several discrepancies and the extent of work may not be as much as being claimed by the officials.
“The officials claim to have completed desilting and being prepared for monsoon every year. But even a light shower washes away the claims and bring out the truth,” said Farhad Suri, leader of the opposition in south corporation.
Another issue that could derail the monsoon preparedness is the multiplicity of authority. Roads and drains come under a number of agencies so even if drains on one road are clean, the other may be waterlogged. And the blame game seems to have started already.
Municipal leaders, who rejected contentions of the opposition, claimed that even though they had completed the process of desilting the drains under their jurisdiction, those under the public works department (PWD) are not ready. They said the PWD, which comes under the Delhi government, has cleaned only 25% the drains.
“All major roads and drains in the city fall under the jurisdiction of the PWD. However, the work on the drains has not been completed. During heavy showers the sewage water will flow on roads and because the outfall of MCD drains are in PWD drains, the roads will remain waterlogged,” said Bhatia.
PWD officials refuted the allegations and said all drains had already been desilted and they are being cleaned regularly. “The work on drain cleaning has already begun and would be completed before June 30,” said an official.