4 die in first heavy rainfall of monsoon in Delhi; CM says not time for blame-game
Nearly 100 places across the city were waterlogged, the traffic came to a standstill on important roads, and at least 10 houses collapsed in a slum area in Anna Nagar, which is behind the WHO Headquarters near ITO, displacing the residents.Updated: Jul 20, 2020 07:11 IST
The first heavy monsoon rainfall in Delhi claimed four lives on Sunday, including that of a mini-truck driver who got trapped in a waterlogged underpass, as Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tried to defend his government by blaming the lack of preparation on the coronavirus pandemic.
As the Delhi BJP charged that the very first spell of heavy rain this season “exposed” the AAP government’s preparations, Kejriwal said a “blame-game” should be avoided.
Nearly 100 places across the city were waterlogged, the traffic came to a standstill on important roads, and at least 10 houses collapsed in a slum area in Anna Nagar, which is behind the WHO Headquarters near ITO, displacing the residents.
A small NDRF team was sent to Anna Nagar to take stock of the situation.
Many residents shared on social media videos and pictures of rainwater gushing into their houses and vehicles wading through waterlogged roads.
The maximum cases of waterlogging were reported from North Delhi Municipal Corporation (36) followed by New Delhi Municipal Council (32) and South Delhi Municipal Corporation (30), officials said.
The municipal corporation officials said more than 66 incidents of felling of trees or their branches were reported, in addition to around a dozen wall collapse incidents.
A 56-year-old man from Uttarakhand drowned after his mini-truck was stuck under the waterlogged Minto Bridge in central Delhi. Police said Kundan Kumar was trying to navigate his vehicle through the waterlogged underpass but the vehicle got stuck in the neck-deep water. His body was found floating on the street.
An eight-year-old boy died after he fell in a roadside ditch in Saurabh Vihar in southeast Delhi, police said. A 28-year-old man who worked at a scrap shop in Sriniwaspuri in Gandhi Camp died in a similar accident outside the shop.
Police said their inquiry found that the area was filled with up to three-ft-deep water following the rainfall and the man fell into a pothole. His co-workers lifted him but he was unconscious and declared brought dead at AIIMS.
The fourth accident happened in northwest Delhi’s Jahangirpuri.
A 56-year-old man lost balance on a slippery road and hit a cemented electric pole. He was taken to BJRM Hospital but was declared brought dead, police said.
Water-logging was reported from several areas including at Minto Road, Azadpur underpass, South Avenue Road, Pul Prahladpur underpass, Azad Market, Moolchand underpass and near Batra Hospital, according to Delhi Traffic Police.
Water-logging was also reported at Youth Congress office on Raising Road.
At Zakhira, six people stuck inside a bus submerged in water had to be rescued. According to Delhi Fire Service Director Atul Garg, the firemen could not use a ladder to climb atop the bus and they had to carry people on their backs to safer grounds.
Delhi BJP chief Adesh Gupta said Kejriwal had promised to make Delhi like London and Paris but in reality people are unable to step out due to waterlogging.
East Delhi BJP MP Gautam Gambhir shared pictures of waterlogging and tweeted, “Heard that Delhi government is running rainwater harvesting scheme on London-Paris like roads. When will the advertisements be seen Kejriwal ji.” Kejriwal, however, said that this was not the time for any “blame-game over waterlogging” as all agencies have been busy combating the coronavirus.
“This year, all agencies, be it Delhi government or MCD, were busy in prevention of COVID-19. They faced many difficulties due to corona. This is not the time to blame each other. All have to fulfil their responsibilities together. Wherever there is waterlogging, we will try to pump out water immediately,” he said on Twitter in Hindi.
But former Delhi BJP president and and his main challenger in February polls, Manoj Tiwari, tweeted: “Arvind Kejriwal ji your preparations are exposed by the first rains of monsoon. A solid plan should be prepared to deal with the rains so that Delhi could be prevented from submerging and people saved from difficulties.” Deputy Chief Minister Sisodia said the Delhi government is closely monitoring the situation and appropriate steps will be taken to address the issue.
He requested BJP to work together and not indulge in a blame-game.
The India Meteorological Department, which had predicted heavy-to-very heavy rainfall over parts of northwest India, said 74.8 mm rainfall was recorded in Delhi till 8:30 am on Sunday. Rainfall recorded below 15mm is considered light, between 15 and 64.5 mm is moderate, and above 64.5mm is heavy.
However, AAP leader Sanjay Singh said “no one had expected” that there would be such heavy rainfall.
In a statement, AAP spokesperson and DJB Vice-Chairperson Raghav Chadha said the water-logging problem has been a huge issue but in the last 2-3 years, after the AAP government came to power, the situation drastically changed.
At a time when all agencies are busy combatting the COVID-19 pandemic, it is unfortunate that the BJP is blaming us for water-logging.
Delhi Congress president Anil Chaudhary said the rainfall “unmasked” the faulty working of both the ruling AAP and the BJP-ruled municipal corporations. “The swelling water of drain at Anna Nagar near ITO swept many houses,” he said after visiting the affected families.
The monsoon reached Delhi on June 25, two days earlier than its usual date. But it remained subdued since. The IMD has predicted normal rainfall in the national capital during the monsoon season.