A short spell of rain wreaks havoc on the Capital’s roads, leading to long traffic snarls. However, this week’s rains did not cause any major waterlogging in the city and residents heaved a sigh of relief. With no complaints so far, particularly from south Delhi, the civic agencies are a contented lot.
Still, the wet weather condition has set the alarm bells ringing for South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), Public Works Department (PWD) and other agencies to complete the desilting of drains before the onset of monsoon. The Met department has predicted monsoon reaching the city by June end.
Deadlines, targets for desilting
The SDMC is responsible of cleaning drains that run parallel to roads with a maximum width of 60 feet and a few big drains, such as Kushak Nullah, Chirag Dilli Nullah and Maharani Bagh Nullah. The PWD maintains drains which run parallel to roads which are 60 feet wide and above. The Irrigation and Flood Control (I&FC) department is responsible for larger drains.
The PWD has set a deadline to clean all drains by June 10 and I&FC department plans to complete the work by May 31. A senior SDMC official said the agency has completed about 90% desilting of drains.
As per SDMC’s Annual Action Plan report, 27,400 metric tonnes of sludge was to be taken out this year from 265 drains (deeper than 4ft). This also includes a few big nullahs. To complete the task within a stimulated time, the civic agency has deployed wheel mounted excavators and loaders.
Similarly, for the 18,194 small drains of 4ft (or lesser) sanitation staff has been engaged to take out a total of 22, 500 metric tonnes of sludge. So far, 19,000 metric tonnes has been taken out.
SDMC commissioner Puneet Goel said, “The silt collected from the drains is sent to sanitary landfill sites where each tonne is measured to ensure that the targeted amount is actually met by the department.”
Zonal officials conduct weekly inspections to review the work done by the staff. Periodic inspection is done by SDMC engineer-in-chief and his team. “The engineer and sanitation officials have created a group on a mobile messaging app, wherein updates are shared along with photos,” said a senior SDMC official.
PWD officials are monitoring the task at each level. The engineers have been asked to submit the photo of each lane after the desilting and submit a weekly report. The priority of the local MLA is being discussed simultaneously to deal with critical places on time.
The department has started uploading the ‘desilting programme’ on its official website. It provides the details of officials (executive, assistant and junior engineer) assigned for the task for cleaning drains at different roads, along with their contact numbers. Residents can file complaints online, at toll-free numbers of the PWD control room.
I&FC department is also posting regular updates on its website about the amount of silt removed and the disposing plan.
Methods & progress
The SDMC has made a comprehensive plan to deal with waterlogging during monsoon. “Besides the SDMC control room, the staff will be present at 25 pumping stations in four zones round the clock to take action on residents’ complaints. The staff will also handle overflowing of mix (sewage) waste and storm water drain,” said Goel. Further, 25 mobile pumping stations with high-discharge pumps will be installed at critical places to stop waterlogging.
PWD has opted for the manual cleaning of drains located at the arterial roads in residential colonies. “Earlier we had planned to clean all drains, small and big, mechanically and use vacuum cleaning machines. But after understanding the hitches in the process we went back to the traditional method,” said SK Rampal, chief engineer, PWD. However excavators and loaders are still engaged for big drains. The agency has assigned a private contractor to do the job and about 30% of the job has been done.
At present, the agency is covering the main drains on Outer Ring Road and Inner Ring Road. Work is also in progress near Chirag Delhi. “After covering them we will take up colony drains. More attention will be given to the cleaning of drains with mix sludge (sewage and storm water drain) near unauthorised colonies. Though we de-silt them throughout the year, during monsoon situation become critical and we have to take measures in advance,” said a senior PWD official.
Out of 3,38,132 cubic metres of sludge targeted to be taken out from big drains in Delhi, 2,02,313 cubic metres was de-silted, till May 16 by I&FC department. “Work is going on at war footing at major drains in south Delhi like Bijwasan drain where out of 2,415 cubic metres of waste 800 cubic metres has been taken out. In case of Asola Nullah, out of 2,820 cubic metres of silt, 1,000 has been taken out. Similarly, at Sarita Vihar drain out of 700 cubic metres 175 cubic metre has been taken out,” said an official.
Residents wary of claims
Despite tall claims by officials, residents are still not confident about the monsoon preparedness in the city. “One heavy downpour and one-third of the city is deluged with water. The authorities are not equipped to deal with such emergencies,” said Anil Gupta, of Lajpat Nagar.
Gupta said lack of coordination between various government agencies is another reason for the problem. However, to sort out inter-department issues, a meeting was called on May 4. “Senior officials from PWD, DDA, Municipal Corporation, Flood and irrigation control department, Northern Railway and BSES attended the meet,” said a senior SDMC official.
Meanwhile, SDMC’s ongoing drive to clean and fumigate Narouji Nagar drain failed to appeal residents. “Only cosmetic cleaning was done at the site while we were looking for deep de-silting,” said Pankaj Aggarwal, general secretary of Efforts Group.
Residents living close to the Defence colony nullah have also complained of foul smell from the drain as de-silting was not done here. “The site is covered and it obstructs the cleaning of drains. I have not seen any staff cleaning the nullah,” said Maj (Rtd) Ranjit Singh, vice president of Defence Colony Club.