Last week, apart from excess rainwater, something else went down the drain in the Capital, literally.
It was the authorities’ claim of having turned Delhi into a ‘World Class City’ after the Commonwealth Games (CWG) in October 2010, which came to a naught in just eight months.
With two downpours, the city was back to its crumbling self. The rain-induced chaos — waterlogged roads and overflowing drains — was only a prelude of things to come. All this, with the monsoon still about 10 days away.
If anything, Delhiites can expect this monsoon to be worse than last year. There’s good reason for this: close to 40% of Delhi’s storm water drains — that carry excess rain water — are yet to be cleaned by civic agencies. The pre-monsoon showers have, in fact, laid bare tall claims made by authorities of cleaning drains throughout the year. More worrisome is the fact that since desilting of drains is yet to be done, sludge — which will be removed from the drains — can easily make its way back inside them, once it rains.
No deadline for cleaning debris
With no deadlines for lifting construction and demolition waste — which were set before the Commonwealth Games — the situation has become graver. Projects that could not be completed before the Games are still in progress and may aggravate the problem during the monsoon.
Close to 40% drains yet to be cleaned
Out of the 1,524 storm water drains that come under the jurisdiction of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), the civic body has been able to clean only 749, so far. However, MCD claims that all the drains will be cleaned before the arrival of monsoon.
“The MCD commissioner has been taking regular meetings and reviewing monsoon arrangements. He has also directed all deputy commissioners and chief engineers to be on the field, whenever it rains, to monitor the de-watering arrangements,” said Deep Mathur, director, press and information, MCD.
Unable to tackle the situation, the civic agency has been busy making up excuses. “The city’s drains have been constructed keeping in mind a stipulated capacity. It takes a while for water to be discharged completely,” said a senior MCD official.
“There are many parts of the city where the drainage system is very old. In areas such as Chandni Chowk and Paharganj, waterlogging is a big problem,” the official added.
Cleaning drains through the year futile
The civic agency has been claiming that it has been undertaking desilting of drains on a regular basis throughout the year rather than just before the monsoon. However, they have still not been able to desilt all the drains, so far. “Every year, they make claims which fall flat. Why can’t they take long-term measures and fix this problem for good?” asked VK Arora, a resident of east Delhi’s Krishna Nagar.