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Thursday, Aug 22, 2019

Opinion: Plan required to tackle monsoon problems

The high court urged the government to think out of the box and take immediate measures to ensure that rains did not pose any problem or risk to the citizens.

delhi Updated: Jul 28, 2019 05:31 IST
Pushpa Girimaji
Pushpa Girimaji
Hindustan Times
Delhi monsoon problems.
Delhi monsoon problems.(HT Photo)

It’s truly tragic that the Delhi high court had to intervene and remind the Delhi government’s Public Works Department about one of its fundamental duties — of preventing waterlogging during monsoon and ensuring the safety of pedestrians as well as motorists.

Expressing concern over the traffic snarls as well as the hazards posed by flooding of roads and pavements, resulting in pedestrians falling into open drains and manholes, the high court urged the government to think out of the box and take immediate measures to ensure that rains did not pose any problem or risk to the citizens.

Ironically, during the last monsoon too, the Delhi high court had taken suo motu notice of news reports of rain water inundating roads and pavements and reminded the civic authorities of the consequences of its inaction — traffic congestion leading to loss of man hours , burning of additional fuel by idling vehicles causing increased air pollution, spread of water borne and vector-borne diseases. But obviously, the court’s directions did not have the desired effect because again this year, citizens are facing the same problem that they do year after year and the high court is again forced to take up the issue.

Of course, it is not just in Delhi that the civic authorities remain impervious to the problem of water inundation — one can see that in every major city, year after year. And the toll from people falling into open manholes and drains continue unabated, so also electrocutions caused by snapped power lines.

Last month, even as the monsoon set in, two children — Tushar Jha (11) and Rushab Tiwari(10), out to enjoy the rain in Mumbai, died when they touched a staircase that had got charged due to a bunch of electric wires passing by it. Falling trees have also resulted in the snapping of power lines and both Nagesh Nirange (46) and Solanki (22) died (at different places) in Thane district last month from such monsoon-related accidents. Snapped power cables were responsible for deaths in Delhi too. Saleem Saifi (29) died on a flooded street in Fatehpuri Beri this week when an overhead wire fell on him while he was riding a motorbike. Hoshiar Singh(54) , a passerby, also died in an effort to save him.

Seems like there is no end to the monsoon woes, thanks to the callous negligence of civic authorities. In Cuttack last month, a combination of rain and absence of street lighting resulted in five-year-old Dibyanshu Behera falling into an open manhole and receiving critical injuries while walking home with his mother.

In Goregaon’s Ambedkar Nagar in Mumbai, a three-year-old child fell into an uncovered manhole.

One can quote any number of such instances from different cities to highlight the incompetence of the civic authorities. Surely, it is not such a difficult job to ensure that the rain water flows smoothly into the storm water drains without flooding the roads, all open manholes, ditches and cuts are properly covered, electricity lines are secured and trees that are weak are replaced before the onset of monsoon?

The problem lies in the absence of accountability; and in the lack of transparency in the working of civic authorities. Today, in this digital age, it should become mandatory for every state government/local body to draw up a plan of action before the monsoon, set a time frame for completion and name all those responsible for execution of the work. There should be an appraisal of this work by independent experts as well as citizens and should form the basis for promotion, demotion and dismissal of those put in charge of the work.

Without such measures, one cannot enjoy the monsoon without the accompanying risks.

First Published: Jul 28, 2019 05:31 IST

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