Three decades of non-performance could not be undone in three weeks and, despite some efforts to install pipes prior to Hero Honda Chowk, Vatika Chowk and cleaning of drains, disaster could not be averted. The untimely suspension of six executive engineers of MCG including Vijay Dhaka, who was in-charge of storm water drainage also had debilitating impact on maintenance work.
Insiders claim that the entire nullah was not cleaned by the Haryana urban development authority (Huda) due to lack of funds. Also the concretization of the drain is fraught with dangers and the real solution is either to de-water the Hero Honda chowk with pumps or acquire land in Khandsa to set up pipeline that could evacuate excess water. Both these plans were not acted upon by the HUDA in time.
The blame for heavy waterlogging, and resultant gridlock on Gurgaon roads on Thursday will have to be shared jointly by HUDA and the municipal corporation of Gurgaon (MCG) as well as ruling politicians who have paid only lip service to infrastructure development in the city. Both MCG and HUDA also failed to ensure that rainwater harvesting systems in the city worked.
While the Chief Minister had warned the district administration and civic agencies in January itself, it was only last month that everyone woke up after a brief spell of rain choked Gurgaon. MCG Commissioner TL Satyaprakash had issued a flood control order but it failed to ring any alarm bells. It took a huge outcry from the citizens that HUDA decided to clean the Leg 1 and Leg 2 drains after 35 years.
HUDA administrator Yashpal Yadav claimed they cleaned the drains with super sucker machines. However, there was no explanation for waterlogging in other parts of the city.
HUDA executive engineer Shweta Sharma, who is incharge of Badshahpur drain, claims that all efforts were made to prevent waterlogging. “We cleaned the drain, have concretized it but water from all sides reaches Hero Honda Chowk,” she said.
The MCG also became functional only after directions from Satyaprakash, and additional Chief Secretary Keshni Anand Arora.
National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), which built the Delhi Gurgaon expressway, also shares a major part of the blame as the structure is like a dam for the city. The failure to provide a flyover at Hero Honda Chowk has ensured that Badshahpur drain is blocked, leading to waterlogging.
NHAI project director Ashok Sharma, who has been in-charge of the project for the last couple of years, has not been able to either provide alternative arrangements nor create additional rainwater drains. He blames Gurgaon’s infrastructure for the mess.
Highway concessionaire CEO S Raghuraman said they had deployed 15 pumps in the night but it is impossible to pump out water. HUDA has stepped in with pumps but it remains to be seen how the urban authority manages to resolve the situation.
The multiplicity of agencies and failure of top officials to work in close coordination primarily led to the fiasco on Thursday, and if the promises of Gurgaon Development Authority and others made by ruling politicians don’t come true, the city should brace for a similar round.