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Overflowing toilets, cracked walls, tilted buildings: Aya Nagar is a disaster waiting to happen

Over a hundred families in Aya Nagar — an unauthorised colony in south Delhi — blame the state irrigation and flood control department for the mess. The pond in the area overflows with black filth and even the drinking water is not safe

delhi Updated: Jan 15, 2018 13:04 IST
Joydeep Thakur
Joydeep Thakur
Hindustan Times
Aya Nagar,drinking water,overflowing drains
Sewer water in the area flows back into a pond in Aya Nagar.(Burhaan Kinu/HT Photo)

Rajni Kushwaha is forced to relieve herself in the bushes even if it is in the dead of the night. It is not that her family doesn’t have a toilet in their single-storey house at Aya Nagar. The toilet, she says, has become unusable due to sewage flowing from it. “We can’t use the toilet in our home because the commode is overflowing with drainage water from the entire neighbourhood,” 36-year-old Kushwaha said.

Over a hundred families in Aya Nagar — an unauthorised colony in south Delhi — face similar conditions in their homes. The residents blame the state irrigation and flood control department, which had laid down drain pipes in the neighbourhood, the outlets of which opened in a water body. Over the past two years, the water body has filled up with sewage water which now has started backflowing and entering the houses of Aya Nagar and threatening the lives of local residents.

“That’s not all. The walls of our house have become damp and some have even developed cracks. I can’t let my four-year-old son go out and play as the pond right next to my house is overflowing with black, filthy water. I fear that they can fall in the water and drown,” Kushwaha added.

Kushwaha is not the only one in her neighbourhood who has been braving such deplorable conditions for the past two years. Life has become a living hell for more than one hundred families living in Aya Nagar’s G-Block, locally known as Paras Colony.

Over the past two years, the water body has filled up with sewage water which now has started backflowing and entering the houses of Aya Nagar . (Burhaan Kinu/HT Photo)

“We can’t drink water unless it is boiled or sieved as it contains a lot of impurities. You can see all kinds of black particles floating in the drinking water. Many people are falling sick. Even my daughter suffered from diarrohea last month. The water is so dirty that if you leave it for two days, worms start germinating in it,” said Rajkumar Tiwari, a local.

A spot check of Paras Colony last week, revealed that the area was engulfed by a foul smell and the pond was overflowing with drainage water. Sewage water had entered several houses. Some buildings had developed cracks while a few had even tilted to a side, forcing residents to abandon their homes.

Locals complained about skin problems and water-borne diseases that they said were becoming increasingly common. Residents said that even though they are drinking boiled water, an epidemic or a disease outbreak was just waiting to happen.

“We are suffering because of the callous attitude of the state irrigation and flood control department. They had laid down piped drains in the adjacent F block of Aya Nagar a few years ago. The outlet, however, were left to open in a natural water body in G Block despite protests by locals. Now, the water body is overflowing and drainage water is entering the homes,” said Ved Pal, the local councillor.

Repeated attempts to reach out to the irrigation and flood control minister, the department’s secretary and the chief engineer of zone 1 were unsuccessful.

A senior official of the irrigation and flood control department, who was aware of the problem, said that the drain outlet was allowed to open in the water body as there was no other place.

“The matter had come up in a recent meeting with the deputy magistrate and sub-divisional magistrate. We are trying to come up with a solution like a permanent pump house. But as a temporary solution we are providing a motor pump to flush out some of the water when conditions aggravate,” said the official.

Locals, however, said that the claims were a hogwash as one motor pump was brought in and operated only for a few hours, when conditions aggravate, before being taken away.

“Conditions go back to being bad as soon as the pump ceases to work. Dirty, foul smelling drain water from nearby areas constantly pour into the water body throughout the day. The entrance to my house has been choked and is overflowing with water. In order to go out, we first have to climb on to the terrace, reach out to the next house and then use their staircase and entrance,” said Nirmala Shunar, a local resident.

Residents say sewer water flows into their houses. (Burhaan Kinu/HT Photo)

While some families have reportedly abandoned their houses and have shifted elsewhere, others are living in a constant fear of their houses collapsing anytime.

“A portion of my house collapsed a year ago. Luckily, no one was injured. We had to spend more than Rs 3 lakh to rebuild the walls and the collapsed portion, which had caved in. But two months ago, the walls again developed cracks. We are poor people. How will we manage?” said Rajesh Thakur, another local resident.

Locals claimed that repeated appeals to authorities over the past two years have not yielded any results. The situation has reached such an alarming stage that the local councillor has sent a letter to the irrigation department warning that if any accident takes place, it would be the onus of the department.

“We have been running from pillar to post. We had also approached the south civic body. But nothing has been done. In February 2016, the sub-divisional magistrate of Mehrauli had requested the irrigation department for constructing a pump house. But till date nothing has been done. The matter has been again highlighted this month by the deputy magistrate in a meeting,” said Pal.

Locals alleged that life becomes all the more difficult during the monsoon season when the area gets submerged under knee-deep to waist-deep water.

“Even though we have dumped soil and concrete debris around our house to stop the dirty drain water from entering, during monsoon the stop-gap measure fails. Black sewage water enters our houses and we can’t even get down from our beds,” said Kushwaha.

The situation is worsening everyday as more drainage water is pouring into the already overflowing water body. Locals alleged that earlier the outlet was allowed to open in a separate water body. The present water body was chosen later on as the earlier one had already filled up.

Residents now claim that it will take a disaster in Aya Nagar for the authorities to wake up to their plight.

First Published: Jan 14, 2018 23:24 IST