The utter failure of civic measures on Thursday, which led to Gurgaon’s roads being water logged, was foreseeable due to more factors than one.
From the lack in flood control measures to delays in construction of artificial water bodies and cleaning of drains, many things contributed collectively in crippling the system. What made things worse was the suspension of six executive engineers of Gurgaon’s Municipal Corporation (MCG), four of whom were reinstated on Thursday evening.
The disaster was largely amplified by the failure to clear clogged drains, rampant destruction of natural ponds and embankments for development and poor civic planning.
A low-lying region, Gurgaon receives rainwater run-off from both from the Aravallis and Delhi’s Chhatarpur, and by building artificial drains over the natural ones, it only made the civic agencies’ errors more egregious.
Preventive Measures Ignored
On June 13, deputy commissioner and MCG commissioner TL Satyaprakash issued flood control measure plans for 38 senior officials of various civic bodies including MCG, Haryana Urban Development Authority, Forest department and public works department.
The measures listed under the flood control plan were ‘preventive’ measures and no ‘solution’, officials had conceded then.
Unfortunately, these measures were also not executed, leading to people spending almost six hours in traffic as the city buckled under severe spells of rain.
MCG decided to redevelop ponds as water bodies and identified Sukhrali pond, Kadipur pond, Basai pond, Sirhaul pond and Jhazgarh pond for the project.
They were conceptualised to be catchment areas to let rain water accumulate into the pond, which could also be used for recharging the underground water.
But, work has only been completed at Basai pond; the rest remain on paper. Worse, the construction of the remaining ponds is likely to be hampered as there is excess moisture in the ground that will impede binding and settling stones, with chances of soil erosion high.
Check dams at Ghata to control water level
So far, only work on the upcoming artificial lake at sector 53 has been initiated. There is still no clarity if MCG or the forest department or both will execute the Ghata check dam project.
An artificial lake in Sector 72 had to be built to keep water away from NH 8 and northern sectors. To divert rainwater, the Khandsa drain had to be extended along NH-8 at Hero Honda Chowk.
Also, an open drain for diverting water along the Southern Peripheral Road to the Yamuna is under the plan.
Suspension of six executive engineers
Probably the last nail in the coffin, six MCG executive engineers were suspended for issuing tenders for development projects worth Rs 23.10 crores without using the e-tendering process. Their suspension order was directed by Haryana urban local bodies minister, Kavita Jain, last week.
Since then, MCG’s engineering wing has been working with just two officials -- an audit officer and an accounts officer. Though four of the officers were reinstated on Thursday evening, it was only after the crisis had arisen.
Interim measure officials are also being deputed from other departments. However, they lack the experience, ground knowledge and crisis managerial skills their predecessors have, senior MCG officials conceded.
Failure in a system cohesion and poor decision making further meant that the suspension of the officials severely effected the execution of drainage work such as desilting, cleaning and proper use of machinery.