With monsoon round the corner, the municipal corporation (MCB) claims to be all set to tackle the problem of waterlogging, but by relying on the old technique of flushing out the water mechanically, instead of coming up with any long-term solution of the problem.
The first light-to-moderate rain in the city last week left many areas flooded for hours together bringing the normal life to a standstill exposing limitations of the urban body to deal with the situation.
Most parts of the city do not have a proper sewerage system for smooth flow of rain water that leads to waterlogging. The small-sized pipes get choked during heavy rain, thereby resulting in a flood-like situation in many areas. Even posh areas like Civil Lines, where official residences of government officers are located, witness a flood-like situation for hours making the area totally inaccessible.
Though the administration is claiming to have deployed suction pumps at as many as 10 low-lying points across the city, where the problem of deluge is severe, yet the facility has limitations and the process of flushing out the water takes hours.
The urban body also claims to have desilted the drains, but the exercise is yet to be conducted in many parts of the city even as the monsoon is about to arrive. An official, on the condition of anonymity, said that desilting of drains is yet to be carried out in more than 30% of the areas under the MCB.
However, the likely weak monsoon this year seems to have instilled a feeling of relief among the authorities concerned. As per the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), compared to the usual average rainfall of 114 mm in Bathinda in July, the rainfall this year is expected to be 30%-50% less this time, that means lesser waterlogging and flood-like situation.
Deepak Kumar, a trader in one of the worst-affected areas Sirki Bazaar, said that the problem of deluge has aggravated in the past few years instead of getting alleviated. "One can imagine the extent of the problem that this area remains flooded for over 24 hours in case of heavy rain with water level going up to three feet," he said, adding that the narrow drain in the area results in this situation.
Sanjeev Sony, a resident of Paras Ram Nagar, another locality prone to waterlogging, lamented that even a 20-minute rain last Wednesday flooded the area so much that it took over 20 hours to clear the water. "Residents have been facing this problem for the past 30 years and every season, the same story is repeated here. We wonder what policy makers are planning this time," he said.
Commissioner, MCB, Dalwinderjit Singh, said that the urban body is fully prepared to deal with the situation and officials have been assigned particular areas to keep a watch on the situation.
"Desilting of drains has been done in more than 80% of the city while work on the rest is going on. As many as 25 officials have been assigned the areas while a flood control room has been set up with three employees deputed there," he said, adding that the topography of the city makes it prone to waterlogging and mechanical flushing out of water is the only solution, limitations notwithstanding.