Gurgaon: A year after Gurujam, city still vulnerable to flooding
A year ago, on July 28, it rained in Gurgaon. And all hell broke loose. Though no one knows how much it rained that day, weatherman and residents agree that it was “incessant” enough to make city both gridlocked and waterlogged. The jam of nightmarish proportions — it lasted almost 20 hours — had no equivalent in the city’s history.
Residents who suffered through ‘Gurujam’ are nowhere near forgetting the ordeal of spending the night on the inundated roads without food and shelter. So much so that each time the monsoon clouds gather, they hope that it’s not a rerun of July 28.
The fear is not unfounded, considering that despite the administration’s tall claims much is left to be done on the ground to tackle waterlogging. So far, a repeat has not happened, largely because it has not rained as much this year.
The district administration and the state government insist that they have learned their lessons and have attempted measures to ensure that the city sees no Gurujam 2.0.
Given the lie of the land, waterlogging is a real and perennial problem for the district administration which has failed to adopt larger remedial steps till date. Experts say the water flow, which in Gurgaon is from east to west, has to be streamlined with the master plan.
“Rainwater flows off the Aravallis in the east, enter the main city and NH-8 and moves towards Najfgarh drain. Most of the smaller drains from the hills are also located in the east and merge with the Badshahpur drain. The district administration does not have a master plan to streamline the stormwater flow and use it to recharge the water table. The main drain is rarely desilted and many sewer lines are also connected to it leading to the deposit of more sludge. In Khandsa, a 600-metre stretch is a chicken neck and the main reason for the flooding of the NH-8 every year,” said Prof Gauhar Mehmud, HoD, civil engineering, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.
“Temporary arrangements simply won’t work,” he said.
The Manohar Lal Khattar government had warned the three major stakeholders — Haryana Urban Development Authority (Huda), Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) and the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to ensure that all measures are in place this year to tackle waterlogging.
“The administration is fully prepared. Steps such as desilting of drains, deploying adequate staff for emergency and installing motor pumps have been taken,” said Vinay Pratap Singh, DC Gurgaon.
Huda is the custodian of the city’s main drain, the 25km Badshahpur drain that passes via Ghata in Gwal Pahari, Sohna Road, NH-8 and Khandsa to merge with Najafgarh Drain. There are several subsidiary channels to Badshahpur drain that put pressure on the main drain throughout the year.
“We have closed four subsidiary channels which flow into Badshahpur. We have also desilted 18km of the drain and created a culvert in Khandsa,” said Sweta Sharma, executive engineer, Huda.
“Seven motor pumps are in place near Khandsa drain to drain out water. Huda has placed two additional 650-metre pipes across the Khandsa village which will take out flood water,” Sharma said.
To prevent rainwater from accumulating at Hero Honda Chowk, administration has earmarked 19 locations to install pumps.
“Badshahpur drain is 30 metres wide except for a 600 metre stretch in Khandsa where it narrows down to 10 metres. Huda has failed to widen it so far. Additional pipes would not help in the long run. Huda does not have check dams across the Aravalli foothills which are essential to hold the run-off rainwater. The government should form team of experts of environmentalists, engineers and officials to find a permanent solution,” said Darshan Singh, an expert on rainwater.
Gurgaon’s average rainfall is 595mm of which 90% goes waste. Lack of rainwater harvesting systems is another big lacuna on part of the district administration.
Desilting Najafgarh drain
Following a meeting of officials of Delhi and Haryana, a joint inspection of the Najafgarh drain was carried out and a report was prepared and submitted to the ministry of urban development.
The report exposed a glaring fact— several points in the Najafgarh drain were blocked by silt deposits.
This meant that the natural course of rainwater from Aravallis through Badshahpur drain to the Najafgarh drain, which empties into the Yamuna, was affected.
The silt deposits had caused the stream bed to rise, affecting the natural flow of water at the junction of the two drains. That, in a nutshell, explained the backflow which flooded Gurgaon roads.
To clear the blockages, officials engaged earthmoving and suction machines this yea rand restored the natural flow of water.
Hero Honda Chowk
Hero Honda Chowk, a low-lying area, is prone to waterlogging. The fact that it is right next to the Badshahpur drain also doesn’t help. Backflow during peak monsoon often floods this crucial junction on the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway, throwing traffic out of gear.
To prevent rainwater from accumulating at the chowk, authorities installed 19 pumps to remove the excess water but without formulating a plan on where the water will be channelled.
Last year, authorities installed pumps and channelled water towards residential areas in sectors 37 and 10, flooding the ground-level houses there.
Given that the Badshahpur drain is not an option— the drain is susceptible to overflowing — it remains to be seen where the authorities will divert the water this year.