Why Noida handles rain better than Gurugram
On Wednesday morning, as people in Gurugram stared at parts of their city turning into a lake, people in Noida reported little inconvenience. The situation was not entirely trouble-free there -- water accumulated at the foot of flyovers and access/exit ramps to the DND -- but it was nowhere near like the situation in Gurugram, where commuters swam to safety as their cars sank and rescue teams patrolled on rafts looking for anyone marooned.
The contrast is explained by how the two cities were planned. The Uttar Pradesh government set up the New Okhla Industrial Development Authority (Noida) in 1976 to develop a planned township on the state’s border with the national Capital. The objective was to blueprint an integrated, modern industrial city with all provisions required for an urban space.
On the other hand, Gurugram did not have a metropolitan development authority till 2017 and a municipal corporation till 2007. It had, although, begun finishing its first housing projects in the 1980s.
On Wednesday, when 70mm of rain poured down on Noida and 118mm on Gurugram, this difference manifested itself in water-logged roads, flooded homes and serpentine traffic jams that were seen in one city, but not the other.
“Noida is a planned city while Gurugram was developed in isolation. In Gurugram, a developer buys 100 acres or 500 acres from a farmer, develops a township, lays infrastructure inside the township and empties rain water outside the campus. It was a piecemeal approach,” said SC Gaur, chief coordinator and planner with the UP national capital region cell, while explaining how town planning methodologies used for Noida and Gurugram were different.
“In Noida, the authority develops roads, drainage network and other civic infrastructure before allotting the land to a developer,” Gaur said.
Rajvir Singh, former chief town planner, Haryana, who is now a consultant, said urban planning failed on many counts in Gurugram. “Initially, when the development plan for the city was being prepared, it was pointed out that natural drains and dams should not be disturbed. However, real estate development was allowed in a haphazard manner. Also, despite a master plan for the city, most of the features remained on paper and thus the civic infrastructure in the city is still catching up with the urban growth,” said Singh.
Experts pointed out that flooding during monsoon is also because of the difference between the topography of the two cities.
“Noida is surrounded by Yamuna and Hindon and is located on plains, where stormwater drains empties out in the two rivers. Also, the city has a planned drainage system. Gurugram, on the other hand, is a hilly terrain with a poor gradient. Moreover, with natural drains such as Najafgarh and Badshahpur being encroached upon in many places, stormwater floods on the city roads,” said Professor Dr Gauhar Mehmood of the department of civil engineering, Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi. Mehmood worked with the Gurugram Municipal Corporation and helped set up water conservation structures to conserve rainwater in 2010-11.
Natural drains, which were spread across the Gurugram district and prominent dams, which existed since the British period at Ghata, Wazirabad, Nathupur, Jharsa and Manesar, have vanished due to encroachments. City officials said it is one of the main reasons for the flooding of Golf Course Road and adjacent areas. “The current stormwater drainage system is inadequate to take the load. Exigency plans need to be created and special emphasis should be put on rainwater harvesting and creating small lakes, which can keep roads free of stormwater,” said Prof Sewa Ram from School of Planning and Architecture in Delhi.
VS Kundu, chief executive officer (CEO) of Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA), said deployment of motor pumps is only a relief measure and until the city’s drainage system is augmented, waterlogging will persist.
Avinash Tripathi, officer on special duty, Noida authority, said: “Teams from water department were on standby to address waterlogging complaints. We had also set up water pumping stations. At the Mamura underpass, water-logging did take place but we managed to pump out water from all low-lying areas soon after rain stopped. We were able to perform better also because Noida has well-planned roads, drainage network and the irrigation drain takes rainwater into the Yamuna and Hindon.”
Gurugram also has a plethora of civic agencies: HSVP, HSIIDC, GMDA and MCG. Noida has one.
While the Noida Master plan 2031 defines land use of each sector before it is allotted to builders for housing or for setting up industries, most of the new sectors in Gurugram (from sector 58 to 115) lack roads, water supply, power infrastructure and sewerage system.
KK Rao, Gurugram police commissioner, said waterlogging has been one of the biggest challenges for all government agencies, including the police. “Poor road engineering, improper drainage system and human negligence are the reasons which lead to such situations. The drains are not regularly and properly cleaned, the water pumps are not that effective and the terrain is also not friendly. Regular monitoring and joint efforts by all the agencies can only avert a repeat of Gurujam,” he said.