First rain brings relief, waterlogging, snarls
Even as the authorities repeatedly assured that most drains had been desilted and that the city would be ready to combat waterlogging this monsoon, three hours of heavy rain on Thursday left many roads submerged in knee-deep water.Updated: Jul 05, 2019, 07:51 IST
City’s first spell of rain, induced by easterly winds, brought with it relief, waterlogging, traffic jams and nightmares of the 2016 jam as traffic on two stretches—Subhash Chowk-Vatika Chowk Narshinghpur-Khandsa—remained affected till late midnight as water had not receded. As the police scrambled to clear congestion, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) officials said they were pumping out water.
Even as the authorities repeatedly assured that most drains had been desilted and that the city would be ready to combat waterlogging this monsoon, three hours of heavy rain on Thursday left many roads submerged in knee-deep water.
Authorities, on Thursday, acknowledged that the June 30 deadline for monsoon preparedness had fallen through.
Additionally, areas including Kadipur Chowk, Himgiri Chowk, Aggarwal Dharamshala Chowk, sectors 49, 37, 27, and 28 also reported waterlogging with more than 2-3 feet of rainwater accumulating there.
Rain, induced by easterly winds, started around 1.45pm and halted by 4.30pm. As per the official district administration release, 82mm rainfall was measured between 8am-5pm, on Thursday. This was almost half of the average monthly rainfall for Gurugram in July, as per an IMD official, who said that with more rains expected in the coming weeks the average precipitation this month is likely to surpass the average.
With the NHAI commencing desilting work here only late last month, the stretch was susceptible to waterlogging. On Thursday, four of the six lanes of the carriageway and all services lanes were inundated. At certain points that the water almost reached till the windows of cars.
“The sight of waterlogged roads was scary, and evoked fear of another Gurujam-esque situation. From my office window, I could barely see the road and the divider. The service lanes were inundated and people had to restrict themselves to one carriageway on both sides of the road. I had a meeting in DLF Phase-1, but I cancelled it,” said Mihir Verma, who works in a furniture manufacturing company on Sohna Road.
The NHAI had taken over this stretch from Public Works Department on February 1. With NHAI being unable to float tenders and finalise a concessionaire before the model code of conduct was enforced ahead of the 2019 general elections, desilting commenced only last month.
Amit Khatri, deputy commissioner and MCG chief, and NHAI project director Ashok Sharma acknowledged the delay in desilting. “Waterlogging was experienced in some areas as drain cleaning work is still underway. We’re trying to clean the badly blocked drainage system in a very short period of time,” Sharma said.
The stretch is infamous for waterlogging as it is located at a depression, resulting in large amounts of run-off rainwater from the Aravallis accumulating here.
The service lanes here were inundated and became unusable for motorists and pedestrians. At the Delhi-Jaipur carriageway, only one lane was accessible for motorists. The other carriageway towards New Delhi was in a marginally better condition.
Due to the waterlogging, three vehicles broke down on the stretch compounding the traffic snarl during evening hours.
“It took me nearly 25 minutes to cross the three kilometre stretch,” Jaipur resident Amitabh Ranjan said.
Last year, the MCG had deposited Rs7.38 crore with the NHAI for completing the drainage work along the stretch. While the drain is complete, MCG officials said the drain itself was not desilted.
“It appears the NHAI has not completed desilting drains along the stretch, which resulted in waterlogging. The issue will be taken up with NHAI,” Khatri said. Ashok Sharma visited the spot on Thursday evening to assess the on-ground situation.
“Rainwater came on to the service road from Begumpur Khatola, which blocked two lanes of the expressway. Although all motor pumps have been deployed, it will take some time to pump out the rainwater. Three vehicles also broke down near Narsinghpur. It took us half an hour to clear them,” said Sharma.
Throughout the day, the Gurugram traffic police issued regular traffic updates via the social media. Police commissioner Muhammad Akil said, “We faced major challenges at two points—Vatika Chowk-Subhash Chowk and the Narsinghpur-Khandsa stretch. At all other points we were able to manage traffic without much trouble. We had anticipated heavy rainfall, hence, all traffic police officials, SHOs, DCPs, and ACPs were position at spots prone to waterlogging. Due to this, traffic could be managed.”
This year, as the city enters the monsoon season with its drains still clogged, Khatri said, “We will be identifying and compiling a list of all the points where waterlogging was experienced on Thursday. Vehicle-mounted pumps will be stationed to drain out rainwater. They will be stationed there till the monsoon ends.”