Rain check: Panchkula in a limbo
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 is Panchkula, HT wades through the ground to focuspunjab Updated: Jun 28, 2017 15:50 IST
All is not well with the Panchkula’s Municipal Corporation. The monsoon is at its doorstep, yet the city is yet to see the cleaning and maintenance of road gullies and storm water pipes. This despite the fact that the city’s topography makes it vulnerable to flooding. With the municipal commissioner and Mayor busy fighting ego battles, there is little focus on monsoon preparedness.
Last year, the rain water entered 50 homes in the low-lying Sector 19. Sector 16 was also hit hard when water entered many houses due to acute inundation near the Bel factory.
WORK YET TO GATHER PACE
MC superintending engineer DS Mangla claims that three agencies have been hired to ensure cleanliness and maintenance of road gullies for monsoon. The work will pick up pace in the coming days.
However, president of the citizen welfare association, SK Nayyar, said last Monday’s downpour was enough to expose MC’s preparedness. All intersections were under 2-3 feet of water within one hour of the rain. “I doubt the MC will be able to prevent flooding this monsoon,” he said.
It is for the first time that MC will look after the maintenance of storm water drainage system in Panchkula. Till last season Haryana Urban Development Authority was responsible for this job, which was transferred to MC earlier this year.
A senior HUDA official said the cleaning of road gullies should get over by mid June. “We had earmarked special teams for different areas. They used to keep a vigil on days of heavy downpour to make sure that the water did not flood critical areas,” he said.
ROADS IN A SHAMBLES
Waterlogging along with the poor condition of many roads often leads to accidents in the slippery season. Earlier this month, an accident near the Industrial Area claimed two lives. The family alleged that the bike had skidded due to potholes. Despite this, the MC is yet to start repairing the roads.
While re-carpeting work is not possible due to rainfall, even patch work is being delayed. Sector 12 councillor Lily Bawa said the MC has just one road roller for patch work, which too has gone for repair.
“We must start the patch work at the earliest if road construction is not possible because during rainfall even a small pit can lead to accident on roads, especially for two-wheelers. We should act before another tragedy takes place,” said Bawa.
While admitting there had been a delay in road laying and repair work, Mayor Upinder Kaur Walia blamed the engineering department for sitting on the recarpeting files for a long time.
She added that she has already asked the MC staff to complete the patch work.
NAKED WIRES SPELL DANGER
Naked electricity wires next to the electric poles also spell danger during the rains. There are several
street lights with hanging wires that could lead to an accident. Deepak, a 17-year-old youth was recently electrocuted after he came in contact with an electric pole on the road dividing Sectors 11 and 14. The family of the deceased blamed the Panchkula MC officials for his death.
Sector 4 resident Nitin Singla complained that there are several spots where one can see loose wires prising out of gear boxes of street lights.
Most residents said they were happy when HUDA was in charge of rain readiness as it used to start cleaning the gullies in time. An MC official griped that HUDA should not have transferred this work to them knowing how poorly staffed they are. “We also have a problem with decision making as the House seldom meets to discuss the issues of the township.”
HOW TO FIX IT
1. The ongoing Mayor-Commissioner tussle is taking a toll on overall decision making. Higher authorities need to intervene to ensure that regular work does not suffer. Essential works must be prioritised.
2. MC does not have a dedicated public health wing to look after the drainage system, which was transferred to it from HUDA last year. It needs to appoint engineers and ground staff to supervise the cleaning and maintenance of rainwater drains regularly, and in the runup to the monsoon. Merely outsourcing the work to a private agency is not sufficient
3. MC lacks essential equipment such as a pumping system and road rollers to deal with any eventuality during the rains. The corporation should arrange for equipment and set up teams for responsing to calls for help from residents during the monsoon. They should not hesitate to seek the help of other govt agencies The road to Nada Sahib near the flyover gets inundated even after a minor shower. Bottom: The roadside drains have been virtually blocked at several places.
1. The Red Bishop in Sector 1 is the city’s highest point while Sector 19 is its lowest point. Often rainwater of other sectors gets accumulated in Sector 19, and it does not drain properly due to blockages in the neighbouring Zirakpur that falls in Punjab. The matter is yet to be sorted out.
2. A pocket of Sector 16 faces the perennial problem of water logging during the monsoon. At times, water even enters houses. While the authorities have provided another outlet for the water, its efficacy will be known only once the rainy season sets in.
3. Several sectors in between these two points, including Sector 8, 9, 10 are prone to waterlogging due to poor storm water drainage system in these sectors. Corner houses on the dividing road of Sector 9 and 10 are hit the hardest.
4. Roundabouts, including 7/18, 8/17, 9/16, 10/15 are often inundated. The MC must prioritise the cleaning of road gullies at these intersections before the rains.
(Third of five-part series, Next: Periphery in deep waters)