‘Civic storm’ brewing in Lucknow ahead of monsoon? - Hindustan Times
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‘Civic storm’ brewing in Lucknow ahead of monsoon?

Jun 14, 2024 09:00 AM IST

Lucknow is in a race against time as only 520 of the 1288 drains have been cleaned by mid-June, posing a threat of waterlogging in case of heavy rains

LUCKNOW The onset of monsoon will be a big test for the Lucknow Municipal Corporation (LMC), as the city faces a daunting task of cleaning more than half of all its 1,288 drains that are important for storm water management.

Daulatganj nullah in the old city area littered with plastic. (Deepak Gupta/HT Photo)
Daulatganj nullah in the old city area littered with plastic. (Deepak Gupta/HT Photo)

Lucknow is in a race against time as only 520 drains have been cleaned by mid-June, posing a threat of waterlogging in case of heavy rains. The civic body’s efforts in the coming days will be critical in determining whether the city can weather the impending rains without major disruptions.

Over 5 crore were earmarked for nullah cleaning this year, but due to the lack of urgency the job remains incomplete.

On an average, Lucknow receives about 590.3 mm of rainfall annually, which necessitates an efficient drainage system to prevent waterlogging.

Shailendra Yadav, assistant professor of environmental science, at Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University (BBAU), underscored the importance of this task. “Our drains must be able to handle this volume of water. Effective cleaning is vital to prevent severe waterlogging and its associated problems,” he said.

Lucknow’s stormwater management infrastructure comprises a vast network of 1,288 nullahs, spanning in 919 km. The LMC has categorized these drains into three groups for more efficient management. The first includes small drains - less than one metre wide, mid-size nullahs - between one and three meters wide, and giant nullahs - over three metres wide.

The largest of these, comprising seven huge nullahs and 12 others over three metres wide, fall under the purview of the rubbish removal department. This department employs heavy machinery and substantial manpower to manage these extensive drains, which total over 67 km in length.

Despite LMC officials claiming to have cleaned 52 km of these large nullahs, the concerns remain.

Sayyed Yawar Hussain ‘Reshu’, five-time corporator of JC Bose ward, said: “I have been monitoring the nullah cleaning efforts, but the Ghasiyari Mandi nullah remains full of filth. This nullah, running across 3 km, is vital because it handles drain and stormwater from Qaiserbagh, Nazirabad, Aminabad, and Lalbagh. Its network spans approximately 50 km, including around 20 smaller nullahs that feed into it. Inadequate cleaning could lead to severe waterlogging in these key areas.”

“The Riverbank Colony drain, around 2 km long and connected to 12 smaller drains, also remains uncleaned. This drain is essential for managing water from Golaganj, Riverbank, and parts of Chowk. Without proper desilting, these areas at risk of significant waterlogging,” he added.

In response, Manoj Prabhat, chief engineer of the Rubbish Removal department, asserted: “Most of the desilting is completed. We have removed tonnes of solid waste, including thermocol, cotton, blankets, from these nullahs. Over 40 truckloads of silt has been cleared from the 52 km cleaned so far. Any remaining sections will be addressed within the next seven days.”

The health department of LMC is responsible for cleaning 928 smaller drains, spread over 403 km. Dr Vijay Kumar, nagar swasthya adhikari, claimed that approximately 520 drains have been cleaned, with the remaining expected to be cleaned within a week. However, Mukesh Singh Chauhan, a corporator from Indira Nagar who recently contested for the MLA position from Lucknow North, criticized the efforts. He said: “Over 400 small drains are still uncleaned. With the upcoming monsoon, the LMC seems to have prepared the city for submersion.”

The LMC’s engineering department oversees the cleaning of 353 mid-size nullahs, covering 455 km. Chief engineer Mahesh Varma said around 250 of these nullahs have been cleaned. “We are working on a war footing and aim to complete the cleaning within a week,” he stated.

Nonetheless, concerns persist among local representatives. Sharavan Nayak, corporator of Guru Govind Singh ward, lamented: “With rains expected any day, around 200 mid-size nullahs remain uncleaned. The LMC’s delayed start to the cleaning process has left us vulnerable to severe waterlogging.”

Acknowledging the challenge, municipal commissioner Inderjit Singh said: “Of the 919 km of nullah network in the city, 532 km has been cleaned. We aim to complete the remaining work within a week.”

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