The two government agencies — the Public Works Department (PWD) and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) — responsible for maintaining the roads and drains in the national capital — blamed Friday’s mayhem on “unprecedented rains”.
A few hours of rain submerged Delhi and led to day-long traffic jams across the city.
PWD principal secretary Nutan Guha Biswas absolved the civic agency of any lapse. “Delhi witnessed unprecedented rainfall today. The storm water drains have a fixed capacity. Even the drains were flooded,” said Biswas.
It is, however, not the first time that Delhi witnessed such heavy rains or the resulting traffic jams. The two civic agencies, though, fail to learn their lessons.
Delhi mayor Rajni Abbi blamed faulty designs of flyovers and underpasses where there are no provisions for water discharge. State chief secretary PK Tripathi asked the PWD and MCD to submit a report on waterlogging.
The MCD has managed to de-silt only 80% of its drains. Sources in the agency claimed covering of Sunehari and Kushak drains near the Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium to create parking space had led to flooding of the neighbouring areas.
Lack of civic sense among people and lax enforcement of law has seen people blocking drains to create parking spaces for their vehicles. This leads to poor discharge of rainwater. MCD officials said several drains could not be cleaned due to encroachments.
Another reason lies in unpreparedness of the civic agencies. For instance, the ITO Chungi and Ring Road bypass in east Delhi were completely submerged.
“The ITO Chungi underpass got flooded due to overflowing of a Jal Board storage facility. Our pumps were working fine. In other areas, we managed to discharge the water within a couple of hours after the rain stopped,” said Biswas.
A senior PWD engineer, however, accepted that the capacity of machines installed at the underpass seemed inadequate to handle such a downpour. “We will soon have an internal assessment and will explore the possibility of augmenting the pumping capacity,” the engineer added.
Experts, meanwhile, said rapid construction close to the Yamuna had also restricted natural discharge of rainwater.