As rains spell trouble, Delhi gets caught in road agencies’ blame game
Delhi has eight agencies that look after the Capital’s road network but when it rains and miles-long traffic snags clog the city, none of them take responsibility.
Experts say most traffic snarls during the monsoon are aggravated due to poorly desilted roads and drains as rainwater gathered on streets has nowhere to flow out. Water-logged roads not only result in incessant snarls but also deteriorate the surface of the roads, forming potholes.
“It is high time that the road owning and repairing agencies started taking responsibility for the mess they create on the roads. There is a serious need for a common agency which supervises desilting activities,” said AK Bhattacharjee, former director Unified Traffic and Transportation Infrastructure (Planning and Engineering) Centre (UTTIPEC).
“The city is also in dire need of a comprehensive monsoon plan.”
The eight road owning agencies include the North, East and South municipal corporations, New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), Public Works Department (PWD), National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), Delhi Cantonment and department of irrigation and flood control.
All the arterial roads, which are more than 60-foot wide, are maintained by the PWD, while internal, smaller and neighbourhood roads are maintained by the civic agencies.
But apart from these eight agencies, other groups also often dig up roads for construction and repairs. These include agencies such as the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), Delhi Jal Board (DJB), Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (DSIIDC), BSES and TV cable providers.
So, when the drains have to be desilted and muck lifted from the roadsides, municipal corporations and the PWD often blame each other for not being efficient. To get over this problem, Delhi government had last month formed a joint inspection committee of all the agencies concerned. In one voice, the committee blamed the ongoing construction by Delhi Metro and other agencies for water-logging.
In 2010, the central government proposed to create a unified authority-Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA)-to deal with traffic and transport challenges in the Capital. This ambitious project that aimed at better coordination between agencies, however, is gathering dust.
Bhattacharjee also said that civic agencies should incorporate technology in drain cleaning. Manual cleaning of drains does not ensure proper cleaning of the muck collected. He said along with cleaning, a proper mechanism should also be set in place for waste disposal.