Patna waterlogging reveals many mitigation plans have remained on paper
Patna municipality’s preparedness to deal with water logging during the monsoons got a rude awakening following just 52 mm of rain on May 19 and 20 this year, when important localities were left flooded for hours. A status check has now revealed that many measures cleared to rid the city of the problem have remained only on paper.
While, the urban development department (UDD) and Patna municipal corporation (PMC) claim to have the machinery to clean the capital city of storm water within an hour or so after heavy showers, they were found out badly during the 36-hour intermittent rains which submerged Gandhi Maidan, Patna Junction, Kankarbagh residential colony and Nalanda Medical College and Hospital to name a few.
Last year too, similar claims failed to live up to the promise with many localities, including the state secretariat, state legislative building, Shashri Nagar and Rajvanshi Nagar, Patliputra, Kankarbagh getting flooded for hours during the monsoon.
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar inspected waterlogged areas and drainage pumping stations (DPS) last June and asked UDD officials to concretise the old and kuchha Badshahi Nala—the main channel to take drain water out of the capital city. CM’s instruction was in line with the recommendation made by a high-level committee that probed the severe flooding in Patna in 2019. However, the project has not taken off yet.
Bihar urban infrastructure development corporation (Buidco) was given Rs168 crore to buy additional submersible pumps, diesel generator sets and pumps etc to ensure smooth operation of 39 existing and 27 temporary drainage pumping stations by June last year. The temporary DPS were to be made permanent, but that did not happen so far.
PMC commissioner Himanshu Sharma said the corporation was better prepared this time and had identified water prone areas and installed portable pumps to clear water. “About 97% of the capital city would be cleared of storm water within a few hours if it rained around 100-120 mm in a day,” said Sharma, adding that some areas, which have old drainage networks, might take some extra time to flush out drain water.
The commissioner said that a few new drains, connecting the localities facing perennial waterlogging, have been created to deal with the issue. He, however, admitted that the capacity of the main drainage network, which takes water from smaller drains out of Patna, could not be enhanced.
504 posts, including for engineers and pump operators, were sanctioned by the state cabinet in May last year to run and maintain pumping stations. However, no appointment for engineers or other technical staff could be made as yet. A special secretary of UDD said he was not sure if any fresh appointments were made in the past one year.
Associate professor of Patna University and social activist Shankar Kumar said recurring waterlogging was the result of too much planning on paper and little execution on ground. “First of all, the sewerage and drainage network has to be completely delinked. There should be comprehensive planning for drainage networks in keeping with related hydraulics. But, generally drains are made in isolation. The comprehensive plan with depth and stretch of pipes and rains must be brought in public domain for social inspection of regular cleaning carried by authorities,” said Kumar.
Deputy chief minister Tarkishore Prasad (also in-charge of urban development department), UDD principal secretary Anand Kishore and managing director of Buidco Raman Kumar could not be reached for their comments.