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HindustanTimes Sat,23 Aug 2014

Is Delhi prepared for monsoon?

Ritam Halder & Soumya Pillai, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, July 03, 2014
First Published: 09:08 IST(3/7/2014) | Last Updated: 11:28 IST(3/7/2014)

Like every time, this year too the civic bodies have made tall claims about their monsoon preparedness.

But questioning the civic bodies’ claims this time are the traffic police, which said they were yet to get a reply despite sending five letters to the agencies in the past two weeks for status reports on various actions such as desilting.

“Nearly two months back, we had asked the civic agencies to pull up their socks for the upcoming monsoon season so that unlike the previous years, traffic movement at over 160 vulnerable points in the Capital should not be affected. We identified the points that get affected by waterlogging and cause major snarls. The traffic lights will be monsoon-proof this time. So the lights won’t get switched off even if it rains heavily. But if the agencies do not take care of the basic infrastructure, we are helpless,” Anil Shukla, joint commissioner of police (traffic), said.

Corporation officials, however, claimed that 100 per cent desilting had already been done. “The Lieutenant-Governor convenes coordination meetings. He has personally inspected desilting work in the Central zone. He was happy with the work. The civic bodies send him status reports,” a senior South official said.

Incomplete cleaning of drains

Drains are generally cleared of silt but the muck is left outside. And when it rains, the silt makes its way back to the drains, leading to waterlogging. Hindustan Times on Wednesday saw silt being left by the roadside on August Kranti Marg and Malviya Nagar in South Delhi.

A PWD spokesperson said the silt is left to dry for a couple of days after being taken out. “Once dry, we remove it. Till then it is kept nearby,” he said.

Concretisation issue

An official in the South corporation said the catchment area of the Capital had become such over the years that percolation of water into the ground was not possible. “This is because of rampant concretisation that has become synonymous with the city. There is no permanent solution to this. More pumps and manpower is needed. The drainage system needs to be redesigned,” the official said.

Despite the National Green Tribunal’s order last year to deconcretise trees, the three corporations have not made much progress. About 1-metre around a tree should be left for rain water to percolate to the roots.

Infrastructure woes

All the three civic bodies have thousands of cleaners and have crores of rupees as budget provision.

Lack of permanent water pumping stations at vulnerable areas slows the process down. “We have temporary pumps that are deployed every time it rains at all these places. Over the past couple of years, however, the situation is much better,” a senior East official said.


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