Delhi’s big, bad cover up

If this monsoon sees a repeat of last year's muddle — waterlogged roads and traffic chaos — Delhi residents will have a tough time blaming only the authorities. For, this time, Delhiites are as much in the dock as civic agencies.

delhi Updated: Jun 20, 2011 23:14 IST
Neelam Pandey
Neelam Pandey
Hindustan Times

If this monsoon sees a repeat of last year's muddle — waterlogged roads and traffic chaos — Delhi residents will have a tough time blaming only the authorities. For, this time, Delhiites are as much in the dock as civic agencies.

Their offence: rampant encroachment. Across the city, residents of a number of colonies have covered storm water drains outside their houses.

This is either to create additional parking space or to extend built up area beyond the permissible limit. So, come monsoon and the Capital's residential areas will be inundated with rainwater.

“Encroachment is a major factor that leads to waterlogging during the monsoons. People have covered drains to either create a balcony or make space to park vehicles. How can we clean drains in such a situation?” asked Yogender Chandolia, chairman of the Standing Committee of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD). “Though we have been taking action, the situation is still grave,” he added. With storm water drains covered permanently, cleaning them is impossible, which then becomes a major reason for waterlogging during the monsoon. The MCD, which has 94% of Delhi's area under its jurisdiction, is responsible for cleaning these drains before the annual onslaught of rains. However, the civic agency claims it is unable to clean hundreds of drains as they have been covered permanently by residents, leaving no scope for nallah beldaars (workers who remove silt, clean drains) to desilt them.

However, the civic agency cannot escape blame entirely since, it, too has covered storm water drains at many places, while constructing new roads.

Also, out of the 1,524 storm water drains that come under the civic agency's jurisdiction, they have been able to clean only 749 so far.

Encroachment worries

Experts claim that encroachment is a major reason for waterlogging. Yet, they say that the problem can be resolved easily if basic measures are taken by civic agencies, which they most often fail to.

“Our drains are not maintained properly. Plus, encroachment has resulted in the mouths of drains getting choked,” said SM Sarin, former director of Central Road Research Institute (CRRI).”Both residents and the civic agencies are responsible for this. Also, in many areas, roads have been constructed without (making provisions for) proper drainage,” Sarin added.

Rampant Construction Worsens Matters

The situation is aggravated in areas near the Yamuna river bed, since due to rampant construction, the scope for natural discharge of water has been restricted.

Construction activity and encroachment near Pragati Maidan, Sarai Kale Khan, Okhla and the Yamuna has shut the catchment area of the river, which is a major reason for waterlogging.

Experts point out further that due to encroachment, the drainage system gets blocked. Unable to find a way, the water overflows.

“The rainwater needs a passage to flow out but with the drains clogged, it remains (stationary) on roads,” Sarin said.

Drains make way for parking lots

New Delhi: To create more parking space, residents are happily covering storm water drains in the city.

The situation is alarming in south Delhi areas, where such drains are being covered at an alarming rate, due to space crunch.

For instance, in Greater Kailash-I, a majority of the residents have covered the drains outside their houses, which leads to waterlogging, whenever it rains.

“Most blocks in our colony get inundated (during the rains). There is no space left for water to make its way inside drains. The civic agencies should demolish such structures,” said RK Verma, a Greater Kailash-I resident.

The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), which is supposed to take action against such encroachment, is now planning to conduct a survey to find out areas where drains have been covered. “We will constitute a special team to carry out demolition of such structures,” said a senior MCD official.

Garbage clogs city drains

New Delhi: Instead of rainwater, everything else flows in these drains. The bell mouths (openings) of storm water drains in the city do not have wire
meshes. Which is why garbage and plastic bags make their way in, clogging
the drains.
At several places, the bell mouths have also been covered due to encroachment. While the civic agency admits that waterlogging during the monsoon occurs due to blockage of bell mouths, it has done little to improve matters.
“This year, we plan to start a drive to ensure non-blockage of drain bell mouths. Also, wherever we are constructing new roads, we have given instructions that wire meshes should be installed,” said Yogender Chandolia, chairman, MCD Standing Committee.
But the situation has aggravated since at many places, the civic agency — while constructing footpaths — has closed openings of drains, leaving no scope for the rainwater to flow out.
This could lead to waterlogging in areas like Pusa Road, Karol Bagh, Greater Kailash-I, Janakpuri, Malviya Nagar, Rani Bagh and Rajouri Garden, among others.

First Published: Jun 20, 2011 22:50 IST