Children of Government Primary School, Paras Ram Nagar, enjoyed boat rides through the city streets on Tuesday, thanks to the Punjab water supply and sewerage board and the municipal corporation of Bathinda.
The crores of rupees that the government has spent on sewerage projects in this district are down the clogged drain in the lower areas of the city. As a sign of protest finally, the people of Parsa Ram Nagar arranged boat rides for tiny tots to get them to the classes safely through a sea of sewage and rainwater that the streets and schools had turned into since showers on Saturday and another spell in the morning.
The children might have enjoyed the boat ride but the sewerage authorities must have drowned in shame; at least, that was the citizens' objective after a few hours of downpour on Saturday had submerged most streets and lanes for days together in Bathinda. When gutters choked, sewage came out of pipes and holes and filled the streets.
"We made repeated requests for the cleaning of drains before the monsoon to make room for the extra load during rains but no one cared," said Vijay Kumar, former municipal councillor from Paras Ram Nagar. "The state government has spent crores of rupees on sewerage, but citizens don't have even a penny's worth of benefit."
On Tuesday, the boat rides weren't just a protest. "The children are too small to walk through dirty water," said Kumar. if they do, they can catch waterborne diseases. Had there been a proper sewerage plan for the lower areas of the city across the railway lines, a short rain would not have turned the zone into a lake."
That part of the city suffered the worst attack of dengue-fever epidemic last year, and now the fear is back. The grounds of Government Primary School, Mall Road, are flooded even on the fourth day since the Saturday, and there's no official effort yet to drain the water, in spite of a written request from the school authorities. The campus of Government Girls School resembled a lake after the rain on Saturday.