Monsoon audit: Choked drains forecast floods as Pune remains unprepared to welcome showers
The heavy pre-monsoon rains that lashed the city on Sunday have exposed the unpreparedness of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) to handle the downpour. Civic activists have blamed the municipal administration for carrying out shoddy work of storm water drains, resulting in slum pockets and arterial roads in the city being inundated.
Roads in Deccan, Yerawada, Pune railway station, Mangalwar peth and Kondhwa–Lullanagar junction areas, besides Jungli Maharaj road, Fergusson College road, Shivaji road, Bajirao road and other lanes faced severe waterlogging problems since the city received rains from Sunday.
Civic activists and residents have voiced their concern that waterlogged roads lead to flooding and traffic jams. They claim that work on desilting of storm water drain section, nullah channelisation and other flood related works are only 50 per cent over.
As it rained heavily on Wednesday, the control room was flooded with distressed calls from residents staying in low-lying areas complaining about flooding. Areas which often face flooding are Patil Estate slum area, Kamgar Putala slum, Phulenagar slum, Pulachiwadi slum, Khilare Patilnagar slum, Ambil Odha slum, the riverside area near Shivane, Katraj lake area, old bridge near Aundh, slum area near Harris bridge in Bopodi and the riverside area on Sinhagad road where waters enter houses after heavy rains.
The city’s storm water drainage network has been constructed to carry a volume of 56 mm of rainwater while nullah designing and channelisation can accommodate 73.70 mm rainfall. To carry a volume of 99.1 mm of rainwater, the city needs 1,028 km of storm water drains, 365 km of nullahs and 662 culverts.
The PMC road department maintained that the width of 75 roads passing through the city is less than 24 metres. The central parts of Pune have roads with an average width of 8-12 metres. Most of these roads are encroached with only 6-10 metres available for vehicular traffic. This factor leads to congestion during the monsoon due to waterlogging and inundation issues.
Civic activist Vihar Durve said, “The Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad municipal corporations must clean the storm water drains which are filled with debris, plastic and muck. When complaints are made by the residents, shoddy work is done and the PMC’s standard reply itself speaks about the unprofessionalism work it does in keeping the drains clean.”
Saleem Mulla, president, association for Pune NGOs association, said, “A number of arterial roads in Kondhwa, Camp, Hadapsar, Mohammadwadi, Katraj, Salunke Vihar and even Wanowrie were waterlogged to incessant rains. The PMC must carry out proper cleaning work and ensure that residents don’t face harassment due to waterlogging and inundation in monsoon season,” he said.
Vivek Velankar of Sajag Nagrik Manch said, “The PMC must learn to follow the deadline set for completion of storm water drain related works. We have experienced that deadlines were never met by the civic body. Strict action must be taken against those who are violating the deadline and causing inconvenience to residents.”
Pune mayor Mukta Tilak had last year expressed her public displeasure at the manner in which the storm water drains work was carried out and termed the work to be dissatisfactory.
Jagdish Khanore, head, PMC storm water drainage department, said, “We have completed two phases of the storm water drainage project wherein ₹200 crores have been spent. The third phase has started and we will see good results in the days to come.”