Rain nightmare for Delhi, once more
Delhi’s roads were flooded yet again on Tuesday when heavy morning rains brought the city to a halt, with commuters across the city struggling as key stretches were inundated, exposing the pathetic drainage system, the failure to prepare for the monsoon, and the lack of a comprehensive plan to rid the city of the annual waterlogging menace.
According to India Meteorological Department (IMD) data, Delhi on Tuesday received 84.1mm rain between 8.30am and 2.30pm. According to officials of the traffic police and the public works department (PWD), heavy waterlogging was reported under the AIIMS flyover, ITO, Ring Road near Hyatt Hotel, both sides of the Savitri flyover, Maharani Bagh, Dhaula Kuan to 11 Murti carriageway, Shahjahan Road, Lala Lajpat Rai Marg, and Moolchand underpass, among others.
Waterlogging was also seen in residential colonies such as Jangpura extension, Defence Colony, Maharani Bagh, Malviya Nagar, Garhi village, Sangam Vihar, Vigyan Lok, and Laxmi Nagar, they said.
Flooded roads led to traffic snarls on several key stretches such as ITO, Vikas Marg, Ring Road near IP Estate flyover, Mehrauli-Badarpur Road, Dhaula Kuan, near Bhikaji Cama Place on Ring Road, Narayana, Rohtak Road, Peeragarhi and Nangloi, among others, as commuters uploaded videos of waterlogged streets in different parts of the city on social media.
PWD officials said around 30-40 waterlogging complaints were received till Tuesday evening. According to municipal officials, nearly 10 incidents of trees falling were reported. A portion of a wall also collapsed near Sainik Farms.
“Getting stuck in a traffic jam is a nightmare whether it is due to waterlogging or poor roads. I was stuck in a traffic jam for on Rohtak Road near Peeragarhi. Authorities should do something so that such level of waterlogging doesn’t occur!” Ramesh Kushwaha, a resident of Patel Nagar said.
Uday Verma, a resident of Hari Nagar who travels to Uttam Nagar daily, said, “This has become a recurring issue. Whenever it rains, it becomes a headache to step out of home. A lot of promises are made by the agencies every year, but it’s the same story that is repeated after rains.”
A senior traffic police officer said they diverted traffic on various stretches due to heavy waterlogging.
The last drainage master plan was drafted by the Delhi administration in 1976. To be sure, Delhi was administered by a metropolitan council between 1966 and 1990. In 2016, the Delhi government commissioned a study of the city’s drainage system by IIT-Delhi. Following the study, a drainage master plan was compiled which pointed, among other things, to the fact that the city has no single agency to manage and maintain drainage. However, the plan was not implemented.
A multitude of agencies being responsible for maintenance of storm water drains that leads to a blame game between the municipal corporation and the Delhi government over which drains were not cleaned on time and which were not cleared of silt.
The Delhi government has said it has started work on fixing a drainage plan for the city. Last week, after chairing a review meeting on the Delhi drainage masterplan, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said the design of city drains will be changed according to the suggestions by an expert team from IIT-Delhi to ensure smooth flow of water during and after heavy rains and resolve the problem of waterlogging on roads during monsoon.
According to a senior PWD official, they have also cancelled leaves across the department to ensure everyone is on duty to address issues during the monsoon. But, so far, it does not seem to be working.
The scenes visible on Tuesday, when Delhi got 84mm of rain in a short span, were also visible on August 21, when Delhi received 138.8mm rain -- the highest in a single day in over 14 years.
PWD officials said pumps were used to drain out water from heavily waterlogged stretches. They said 1,500 suction pumps and CCTVs are being installed at vulnerable locations for timely action.
“We are keeping an eye on the situation and ensuring that people do not face much inconvenience due to waterlogging. We are dealing with waterlogging complaints on priority basis,” a senior PWD official said.
A south Delhi municipal corporation alleged much of the waterlogging took place on roads that are managed by PWD. “The complaints received from residential areas were attended by civic officials and water was drained with pumps,” he said.
Short, intense rain spell
IMD officials said that Delhi, for the past few years, receives showers in short and intense spells rather than being uniformly spread across the monsoon months.
“The rainfall received on August 21 was too intense for a 24-hour period. Even 100mm rainfall within three hours is too much. Ideally, this amount of rain should be uniformly distributed over the month. More than 100 mm rainfall must happen over a period of a week to 15 days,” an IMD scientist said.
IMD has forecast thundershowers and heavy rain at isolated places on Wednesday.
The city recorded a maximum temperature of 28.9 degrees Celsius, five degrees below the normal for this time of the year, and a minimum temperature of 25.4 degrees Celsius, one degree below the normal. On Monday, the maximum temperature was recorded at 34.6 degrees Celsius.