THE DRAINAGE system in the capital might have collapsed under the last monsoon deluge, and inundation of low-lying areas might be a long-running problem, but the consultants who prepared the project report for the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) were of emphatic view that “storm water drainage in Bhopal was not a priority”.
Indeed, the project report – “Bhopal City Development Plan under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission” — was prepared before the monsoon, but the failure of the consultant agency to gauge the severity of drainage problem faced by the capital puts a question mark on the entire project making exercise under the ambitious Mission.
Not to mention that it was this report that was submitted to the Union Urban Development Ministry for sanctioning of schemes under the JNNURM.
The project report prepared by the Indore-based consultant Mehta & Associates states, “The rainfall of Bhopal is of medium intensity (1200 mm average per annum) and with the entire natural advantages there is no severity of inundation in the city areas that may affect the public life and business seriously. In view of above, the need for major investment in storm water drainage in Bhopal is not a priority”.
While mentioning the common known facts about the nullahs flowing the wastewater out of the city, the consultant observes that the natural drainage of storm is reasonably good. Despite such observation by the consultant, the Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC) administration is forced to make a major investment in the drainage system. Now, the BMC has been investing an amount of Rs 31 crore on the channelisation of nullahs (open drains).
Patra Nullah, which flows through several parts of the City, had wreaked havoc in many parts of the City during the rain this year. Contrary to the observation made in the project report, the rains this year ruined the public and private property worth Rs 100 crore.
Though the rains were only about 300 mm more than the normal rainfall, the situation was severe, as this problem was ignored over past several years. However, the BMC was forced to take the issue seriously this year and carried out the widening of nullahs like never before.
Mayor Sunil Sood said that he would look into the report, as the channelisation of nullahs has always been a priority of BMC. Therefore, the approval of the Central Government was taken up in the first year of JNNURM proposals, he added.