Rain check: Managing monsoon in Chandigarh | punjab$chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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Rain check: Managing monsoon in Chandigarh

Monsoon is round the corner. It spells cheers. It also wreaks chaos — waterlogging, potholes, traffic clog­ups and a cocktail of vector­borne diseases. To know how well prepared are Chandigarh, SAS Nagar and Panchkula, HT wades through the ground to focus

punjab Updated: Jun 27, 2017 12:25 IST
Hillary Victor
The Piccadilly roundabout in Sector 34 gets inundated the moment it rains heavily. This was the scene at the roundabout on June 19.
The Piccadilly roundabout in Sector 34 gets inundated the moment it rains heavily. This was the scene at the roundabout on June 19.(Karun Sharma/HT Photo)

Here is some good news: Monsoon showers are likely to hit the city this week. Now, the bad one: The rain is going to make life difficult for the residents. Reason: the Municipal Corporation is yet to fast-track the work of cleaning the sewerage and drainage system.

A survey has found that 17,000 road gullies (drainage inlets of storm water) on the internal roads of the sectors are blocked, a sure-shot recipe for waterlogging. With the MC dragging its feet, these are not expected to be cleared before the heavens open.

The torrential pre-monsoon showers last week demonstrated that the Storm Water Drainage system (SWD) has failed as the roads turned into rivulets after only an hour or two of heavy downpour.

Water on the roads is damaging as it erodes the macadam and causes potholes. It can also lead to the road caving in if it seeps into the soil .

Nestled in the foothills of the Shivalik range, Chandigarh is drained by two seasonal rivulets—Sukhna choe in the east and Patiala-ki-Rao choe in the west. Its central part has two minor streams, called Natural choe and nalla (it starts in Sector 29).

PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS
  • FLOODING ON STREETS: The drainage pipes in Chandigarh can only handle rainfall up to 25 mm. These pipes must be replaced with bigger ones that can handle rainfall up to 45 mm or even more as the intensity of rain is on the rise
  • INUNDATION OF THE NATURAL CHOE: Clean up the drains/choes in the city. The storm water is drained into these choes. These must be desilted and cleared of vegetation so that they can absorb the water during the monsoon.
  • OVERFLOWING DRAINS: The road gullies should be cleaned regularly, especially before the monsoon. It is advisable to use suction pipes to rid the gullies of waste. This will allow smooth drainage of water.
  • WATER ON THE SLIP ROADS: Ensure proper levelling and recarpeting of roads. One reason why water collects at roundabouts and on roads is because of poor levelling. Avoid patchwork repair of roads.
ONLY HALF THE GULLIES CLEANED
  • Despite having over 1 Crore to prevent waterlogging, the MC is yet to clean nearly 17,000 road gullies And streets. MC officials say they have set A deadline of June 30 for Completing this work.
  • Speaking to HT, executive engineer, public health wing, BK dhawan said there Are about 35000 road gullies in the City And the corporation has unclogged Around 18,000 of these, while the rest will Be cleaned By June 30.

WHY WATERLOGGING

The main reason is that storm water of Sectors 10, 16, 23, 36, 42 and 52 is disposed of in Natural choe, which originates in Sector 3 and passes through these sectors before entering SAS Nagar. During heavy rains, this choe starts overflowing and storm water drains in these sectors remain blocked till the water recedes in the choe. Similarly, storm water drainage from the Press Chowk in Sector 18 to Sector 52 also flows into the Natural choe in Sector 52. A heavy downpour that floods the choe has a cascade effect on the drains, which start overflowing.

The city’s drainage system is not designed for heavy rains, which in part is responsible for the frequent waterlogging in low-lying areas. As of now, the city drains can handle a rainfall of only 25 mm per hour. Anytime the skies pour 40 mm to 60 mm of rain per hour, the city’s low-lying areas get inundated. The faulty level of storm water pipelines also leads to flooded roads. Take the case of Sector 34/35 junction, where the level of storm water pipelines is such that even a minor downpour leads to waterlogging. It is the same in Industrial Area, Phase 1 (near CTU workshop).

The level of most of the roundabouts is two to three feet higher than that of the road, which leads to water collecting around them. Dividers on several roads also impede the natural flow of water, leading to inundation.

HELPLINES
  • The MC has set up a flood control centre at the water filling station, Sector 15. The telephone number 2540200 will operate round the clock in three shifts until September 30. Following teams have been constituted to attend to waterlogging in any part of the city.
  • Sec 1 to 8: 9872511366
  • Sec 9to12: 9872511241
  • Sec 14 to 16: 9501491122
  • Sec 17, 18, 19: 9872511341
  • Sec 20, 29, 30: 9872511352
  • Sec 26: 9872511338
  • Sector 27, 28, I/A Phase-I: 9915711257
  • Sec-31, I/A Phase-II: 9501035370
  • Sec 32 to 34: 9872511249
  • Sec 21,22,23,24: 9501029278
  • Sec 35, 36, 37, 38: 9872511235
  • Sec 41,42 Attawa, Badheri: 9872511359
  • Sec 43, 44, 45: 9988165533
  • Sec 39, 40, Maloya: 9872511238
  • Sec49,50,51: 9872511353
  • Sec 46, 47 , 48: 9779540112
  • Sec 52 to 61, Kajheri, Palsora: 9868111228
  • NAC, Manimajra: 9872511231
WATERY SPOTS
  • Madhya Marg, All inner roads of sectors, the Industrial Area
  • Sector 35 near Hotel South End
  • Chandigarh-Panchkula Road near Housing board lights
  • The road from Attawa Village to Sectors 35, 43, 44, 45
FACTS
  • Monsoon budget: Rs 1 crore
  • No of rain gullies: 35,000
  • Gullies lying blocked: 17,000
  • Rain capacity handling: 15 mm rain per hour in Sectors above 30, 25 mm rain per hour Sectors in below 30

TRAFFIC TROUBLE

Faulty level of several newly laid roads, such as the slip road from the Sector 17/16 bus stand roundabout, also leads to waterlogging and traffic jams. Interestingly, the new roads are more prone to getting inundated than the old ones due to poor levelling. How the authorities plan to rectify this fault is the big question.

EXPERT SPEAKS

“I blame waterlogging on faulty underground drain pipes. The existing road gullies are too wide and end up getting blocked with filth. They also encroach upon the pedestrian pathways. But the drain pipes are too narrow to accommodate the rain water accumulated on roads. The diametre of the existing pipes must be increased three to four times, only then can we expect total clearance of rainwater from roads.”

Former joint director, TBRL, Sateesh Dadwal

“For the past 20 years, the department has not taken any initiative to de-silt the natural choe, considered a lifeline of the city. The choe has not been levelled to an extent that storm water discharged into it can flow without facing any blockage. MC should clean up the choe from time to time.”

Former chief engineer, MC, Puranjeet Singh

READERS SPEAK

We fail to understand why the MC does not take any concrete steps to sort out this issue of waterlogging despite having such a huge budget for monsoon preparedness. It seems the authorities have not learnt any lesson from the past.

Baljinder Singh Bittu, FOSWAC chairman

It’s sad that officers fail to take corrective steps despite knowing the problem. Low-lying stretches of industrial area near the CTU workshop should be cleared in advance, as people have a tough time navigating waterlogged roads in the area.

Maj DS Sandhu (retd), former nominated councillor

Residents have to bear the brunt of monsoon mess every year due to the MC’s poor planning, lack of foresight and apathetic attitude. Traffic jams become a norm, people reach their destination late and the risk of accidents also rises.

Surinder Sharma, president, Welfare Society, Sec 15

We don’t understand the point of spending such a huge sum of money on cleaning up road gullies. Why should civic officials not be held responsible for lack of regular maintenance of the city’s drainage system, which causes this mess?

Hitesh Puri, Executive member, RWA, Sector 43-B

Though corporation workers clean up the road gullies, they leave the muck on the roadside, and it again flows back into the gullies and blocks the rain water. The MC should make sure that its workers do their task responsibly.

Col Gursewak Singh (Retd.), President RWA Modern Complex Manimajra

FACE TO FACE | THE CITY WILL BE READY TO BEAT THE RAINS BY JUNE 30: NP SHARMA, MC CHIEF ENGINEER

NP Sharma, MC chief engineer (HT Photo)

Q. What are the standard measures taken before monsoon?

Every year, we make sure that all the 35,000 roads gullies are cleaned by June 30 and this year we have already cleaned around 20,000 gullies. We will make sure this work is completed by June 30. We also access main storm lines to check any blockages. Special care is taken to clean the pipelines under roundabouts.

Q. Why is waterlogging a perennial problem in a newlybuilt city like Chandigarh?

The drainage system in sectors above 30 has been designed to handle only 15 mm rain per hour, whereas in sectors below 20, the drainage can handle 25 mm rain per hour. This is why the water takes longer to recede during a heavy downpour.

Q. What are the new steps you are taking to combat waterlogging this year?

We are augmenting storm water lines in areas where we see heavy waterlogging. We have also constituted 21 teams for different sectors. These teams will be equipped with pumping machinery, torches and other equipment to tackle waterlogging in various parts of the city.The residents can call up the engineers responsible for their sectors in case of a blockage.

(FIRST OF FIVE-PART SERIES, NEXT: SAS Nagar)