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Delhi rains: Agencies ignored reminders to fix potholes, unclog drains

Last Friday, the first heavy downpour of this monsoon led to 10 passengers being rescued from a submerged DTC bus at Shivaji underpass (Minto Road bridge). The area was flooded once again on Monday, prompting a similar rescue operation after another bus got stuck.

delhi Updated: Jul 18, 2018 07:26 IST
Soumya Pillai
Soumya Pillai
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Delhi rains,Waterlogged roads,Delhi waterlogging
Vehicles wade across a waterlogged street after monsoon rain in New Delhi, on Monday.(PTI Photo)

A majority of Delhi’s flooding-prone areas suffered from water-logging after heavy rains on July 13 and July 16 because civic agencies and government departments ignored repeated reminders by the Delhi Traffic Police to desilt drains and fill potholes, people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

Officials from the traffic police warned that the situation would be no different whenever Delhi experiences heavy showers over the course of the monsoon.

Delhi’s joint commissioner of police (traffic) Alok Kumar said that his department had sent a list of 387 vulnerable zones to the Public Works Department (PWD), the three municipal corporations, New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), and the Delhi Cantonment Board in April this year. This was followed by at least nine reminders for desilting and road repairs -- the last communication was sent on June 16, two weeks days before the official onset of the monsoon in Delhi.

But, he said, when inspections were conducted by the traffic unit just after the first shower, 211 out of the 387 spots were found water-logged, leading to traffic jams.

“We are an enforcement agency. We cannot ensure that these agencies act on this written communication. It is for everyone to see that roads are still waterlogged after rain, because of which traffic gets disrupted,” Kumar said.

Letters by the traffic police to the heads of the agencies between April and June this year -- accessed by HT -- had highlighted specific problems in each of these spots.

“...This is to remind you that the issues mentioned in the list of roads under your jurisdiction continue to remain unfixed. You are requested to take necessary action on these roads latest by June 5,” a letter written by the then joint commissioner of police (traffic) Garima Bhatnagar read.

Last Friday, the first heavy downpour of this monsoon led to 10 passengers being rescued from a submerged DTC bus at Shivaji underpass (Minto Road bridge). The area was flooded once again on Monday, prompting a similar rescue operation after another bus got stuck.

The civic and government agencies deflected the charges. A senior PWD official contended that the drains had been desilted as per regulations, while the municipal corporations argued that none of the roads on the list came under their jurisdiction.

The mayor of North Delhi Adesh Gupta said that none of these 211 roads fall under the jurisdiction of the municipal agencies. “The issue of water-logging is reported on arterial roads, which fall under the Delhi government. We had called a meeting with the PWD officials but only a few junior officials showed up,” Gupta said.

Delhi government tried to resolve the civic crisis with a minor cabinet rejig. Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal handed over the irrigation and flood control department to Satyendar Jain, who is already the minister of PWD, for better coordination. The department was previously with Gopal Rai.

The state chief secretary Anshu Prakash has also been instructed to conduct a meeting of all stakeholders on Wednesday to resolve the water-logging problems.

But the traffic police said these belated efforts may not help. They pointed out that potholes are a problem around Shahdara main road, Anuvrat Marg T-point, Adarsh Nagar, Hakikat Nagar, Jahangirpuri Metro Station, Andheria Mor on MG Road, Archana T-point, Ashram Chowk till Moolchand, Lajpat Nagar flover and Dhaula Kuan underpass.

“On Monday, after only 30 minutes of rain, the road below the Palam flyover was flooded with knee-deep water. We had to divert traffic over the flyover, which led to jams on the flyover too,” said Rishipal Singh, a traffic constable of the area.

Experts blamed the authorities for once again waking up at the last minute.

“If you try to fix the drains a day before the deadline then such a situation will be recurrent. Also, mere desilting of drains will not help. The capacity of many arterial drains needs to be increased so that it is able to flush out water at a faster pace,” said Prashant Sadachaari, urban design expert from the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi.

First Published: Jul 18, 2018 07:26 IST