Every year, the monsoon washes away all tall claims of the civic agencies’ rain preparedness. This year too was no different. Several areas of the city transformed into mini-pools and vehicles found navigating the pothole-ridden roads filled with water a tough job.
But the question remains: why does the monsoon have such a terrible effect on the Capital?
Experts blame the city’s poor drainage system. "Most of the drains were built more than 30 years ago. No major repair work has taken place and the civic agencies have only carried out some cosmetic changes," said SM Sarin, former director, Central Road Research Institute. This, coupled with encroachment on drains, resulted in mini-floods across the city.
Every year, the civic bodies claim to have had carried out 100 per cent desilting of drains in their respective areas. But the workers often leave the muck outside drains. When it rains, the silt makes its way back to the drains, leading to waterlogging.
Residents reject the agencies’ claims. North Delhi RWA member Ashok Bhasin blamed the authorities’ apathy: "The drains haven’t been cleaned. On paper, I can claim anything but the ground reality is different and for everyone to see. The drains built after Commonwealth Games haven’t been cleaned at all. Small lanes suffer the most and old, narrow areas such as Sabzi Mandi, Kashmere Gate, Azad Market and Sadar Bazar are the worst hit."
Concretisation to blame
An official in the south corporation said that because of concretisation over the years, water percolation has become impossible. "The city is a victim of rampant concretisation. More pumps and manpower are needed. The drainage system needs to be redesigned," the official said.
Despite the National Green Tribunal’s order to deconcretise the trees of the city, the three corporations have not made much progress.
A senior official of the North corporation said the storm water drains’ carrying capacity is inadequate. "The water from the colonies go to the drains maintained by the civic bodies and then to the ones maintained by PWD. Finally, after passing through the Irrigation and flood department’s drains, they reach the Yamuna. If there is a glitch at even one point, it will cause a chain reaction. Every authority should do their bit," he said.
Lack of infrastructure
According to the East agency commissioner S Kumaraswamy, most of the vulnerable areas lack permanent water pumping stations. "We have temporary pumps which are deployed every time it rains. Over the past couple of years, however, the situation has become much better," Kumaraswamy said.
Residents to blame
According to Rajiv Kakria, an RWA member from Greater Kailash I, residents, however, are also responsible for waterlogging. "People build ramps in front of their homes that block drains. They also dump waste in these drains. A master plan and guidelines for drains is needed. Residents must also share the blame for these problems," he said.
Yamuna above danger mark, many evacuated