Delhi’s civic agencies have a week to clear all roads of rainwater and to unclog drains, failing which their chiefs will have to appear before the Delhi high court for an explanation.
Coming down hard on the three municipal corporations, New Delhi Municipal Council, Public Works Department and Delhi Jal Board for letting commuters suffer every time it rains, the court warned of serious consequences if storm water drains were not de-silted within a week.
Accusing the agencies of passing the buck instead of following the court’s orders since 2000 to check this annual menace, a bench of acting chief justice BD Ahmed and justice Vibhu Bakhru said on Wednesday, “Let the cleaning of drains be done on a war-footing. The test will be the first rain after that. If we find waterlogging anywhere, the chief of the civic agency under whom that area falls will be called to court for an explanation.”
“There was water in the drawing rooms of some judges. We saw waterlogging in Tughlak Road and Akbar Road. If this is the situation in VIP areas, other places might be terrible,” it added, scheduling the next hearing on August 8.
The court was hearing a PIL filed by the NGO Nyaybhoomi, which wanted contempt of court action against the agencies.
“It’s the same scene every year. Civic agencies remain mute spectators as commuters are stuck for hours on waterlogged roads,” said its president Col BB Sharan.
Last year too, the court had directed the agencies to ensure drains were de-silted before the monsoon hit. It had also sought short and long-term roadmaps to deal with the menace. Furthermore, it had asked the traffic police to ensure smooth functioning of traffic lights during rains and deployment of additional personnel.
But the last few days have shown nothing has really changed. Roads have turned into rivers at the slightest hint of rain. On Saturday, 123 signals went out when the city received a record 123.4mm of rain — reported by HT on its front page on Wednesday — throwing traffic into disarray.