The Ludhiana municipal corporation (LMC) seems to be used to learning its lessons the hard way. After the last year's monsoon that caused widespread destruction, including deaths of residents, no steps have been taken even this year to ensure that monsoon passes without any tragedy.
August 13, 2011, was the worst day in the history of the city, as three lives were lost due to incessant rain and road cave-ins.
Two members of a family died in Qilla Mohalla, Kumharon Wali Gali, near SDP College on August 13 last when the roof of their house collapsed.
On the same day, a truck driver was also killed after a road caved in at Kitchlu Nagar.
With the monsoon expected to hit the city in a week, the city corporation is still groping in the dark about steps required for waste disposal and cleaning drains. The authorities are not prepared to tackle any incident caused by any natural disaster.
Residents fear that what happened last year might be repeated. City residents recall the days when they were not even able to move out of their homes as the city had turned into a virtual pool with water flowing on roads and drainage system not working properly.
Residents have been anticipating a host of civic problems along with the rains.
The authorities, however, display an apathetic attitude, allege residents, as the administration shifts the onus back to the residents. "The situation was so grim that we did not want to move out of our homes during that time," said Sameer Gupta, a local.
Arvind Sharma, an RTI activist, said the biggest cave-in took place on August 12 near his house in Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar. "In an RTI that I filed after the incident, I came to know that the MC had spent Rs 75 lakh only on concrete to fill the crater caused by caving-in of the road," said Sharma.
He further said most of the roads that had caved in last year were laid on the sewer lines.
"The MC perhaps is not aware of the fact that chemical water flows in through sewer lines that leads to weakening of roads. Besides, absence of retain walls also cause cave-ins at many places," said Sharma.
Sources in the MC said no specific measures have been taken even this time that could ensure safe passage of the monsoon.
"The drainage system that gets choked during the monsoon is also responsible for road cave-ins. Waste material that accumulates and stops water to drain out makes roads weak, thus resulting in cave-ins," sources said, adding that there has been no project that could ensure smooth passage of water in these drains.
However, Sunita Aggarwal, who is the deputy mayor and sitting councillor of the municipal corporation, said un-less local people are not involv-ed in the functioning of the MC, nothing will bear fruits. "Whenever a road is cons-tructed, residents of the area should be asked to inspect the road and only then bills of the contractor concerned should be passed. This will ensure proper construction of roads across the city," said Aggarwal.
Dharma Singh, additional commissioner, B&R technical, MC, said, "If there is a leakage of water beneath the road, it would cave in. Even the quality control will not work in case a pipe blasts beneath the road."