In Delhi, all it takes is a light drizzle to get roads all waterlogged and broken. Monsoon — premature or timely — wreaks havoc on the roads and their drainage system. What follows thereafter is chaos in the form of traffic snarls.
This year, the civic agencies have a new excuse: The untimely arrival of monsoon.
Officials of the Public Works Department (PWD) claimed that even though all measures had been put in place to clean the roads’ drains before the rains, the silt — which had been left out in the open to be cleared out later — went back into the drains due to the early monsoon, choking them.
The civic agency spends approximately R25 crore on disilting the drains of the main roads.
“We had desilted most of the drains, but it was of no use as the rain forced the silt back into the drains. Even the roads that had been repaired broke as the construction material had not settled properly and got washed away,” said a senior PWD official. So, the roads went back to being potholed and water seeped in, corroding them further, the official added.
The civic agencies blamed the capacity of the drains for waterlogging. “The drains of the city were constructed with a certain capacity. It takes a while for water to get drained completely. There are many parts of the city such as Chandni Chowk, Paharganj Moolchand, where the drainage system is very old and waterlogging becomes a big problem,” said a senior PWD official.
The Delhi traffic police had identified 157 stretches, which are prone to waterlogging and are often termed as the vulnerable points. Most of these stretches (142) fall under the jurisdiction of the PWD.
According to the traffic police, improper gradient, settling down of the base layer of roads, choked inlet points of storm water drains and broken roads are the chief reasons behind waterlogging at these vulnerable locations.
Experts point out that the situation is all the more aggravated in areas near the riverbed as due to rampant construction, the scope of natural discharge of water has become restricted. Construction activity and encroachment near areas such as Pragati Maidan, Sarai Kale Khan, Okhla and near the River Yamuna closed the catchment area of the river, which is a major cause of waterlogging.
“The fact is that the natural drainage was disturbed at some point during the development process due to which the water does not drain out properly. There is a need to prepare a proper Master Plan for the drainage system, with a special focus to drain out water along the roads in Delhi,” said KK Kapila of International Road Federation in his letter to the Lt Governor of Delhi.