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HT Spotlight: Chandigarh still not rain ready

The monsoon is round the corner, but 30% of the road gullies in the city are yet to be cleaned. The trouble spots too have not been treated.

punjab Updated: Jun 20, 2018 11:47 IST
Hillary Victor
Hillary Victor
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Chandigarh,monsoon,re-monsoon showers
Around a trouble spot: Water-logging at the Sector 20 roundabout due to heavy rain in Chandigarh on August 21, last year. (HT File)

The pre-monsoon showers are likely to hit the Chandigarh in a week’s time, but it is still not fully prepared. Almost 30% of the road gullies are yet to be cleaned, the N-Choe has only been de-weeded not dug up to make room for more water, and no attempt has been made to widen the narrow drains, which were the topic of hot discussion after the August 21 flooding last year.

Though the officers claim they will be able to clean all the road gullies by June 30, it may be too late as the skies have already started opening up. This is despite an annual budget of 1.30 crore and an army of 100 workers for merely cleaning the road gullies

Last week’s showers provided a preview of the messy monsoons in store for the city. Rainwater was quick to collect at the roadsides due to the faulty level of storm water pipelines.

As per the books, the civic body has cleaned 25,000 of the 30,000 road gullies in the city. Though the civic body is aware that this cleanup takes around three months, it always starts this work in May due to which many gullies remain choked when the heavens open up.

Last year, when heavy rainfall in August threw normal life out of gear, then chief engineer NP Sharma had promised to improve the faulty drainage system. But almost a year has passed and not a single meeting has been held on this subject, leave alone any concrete action.

Last year, experts blamed water-logging in southern sectors on the narrow rainwater drainage pipes capable of handling only 15 mm of rain per hour against the pipes in Sectors 1 to 30, which can handle 25 mm of rain per hour. Experts had proposed repurposing of the system or a phased upgrade of the pipes but not a single step was taken in this direction.

N-choe cleaned

The municipal corporation is very pleased with itself this year because it has cleaned the N-Choe, which originates in Sector 3 and passes through several sectors before entering SAS Nagar, after 10 long years. Experts, however, say a cleanup alone won’t suffice. The civic body should have also dug up the surface to increase the choe’s water carrying capacity.

Nestled in the foothills of the Shivalik range, Chandigarh is drained by two seasonal rivulets—Sukhna choe in the east and Patiala-ki-Rao choe in the west. Its central part has two minor streams, called Natural Choe and nallah, which starts in Sector 29).

Watery spots

Every year, the city is beset with water-logging at Madhya Marg and inner roads of many sectors. Other perennial watery spots include the Industrial Area, CTU workshop, part of Sector 35 near Hotel South End, the Chandigarh-Panchkula Road near the Housing Board lights, the stretch from Attawa village to Sector 35, Sectors 43, 44 and 45, Sector 22, Palsora village, Burail and Sector 29 (iron market). The civic body seems to have resigned itself to weathering another deluge at these places as there has been no attempt to take any remedial steps here. The level of most of the roundabouts is two to three feet higher than that of the road, which leads to water collecting around them. This lacuna is well known but the authorities have done little to address it.

The poor slope along the dividers on several roads also impedes the natural flow of water, leading to inundation at various spots along them, but nothing has been done to make amends.

Big projects need some time: Manoj Kumar Bansal, MC chief engineer

Q: What has been done to improve the faulty drainage system as promised last year ? There was talk about laying new pipes.

It is a major project with a huge financial implication as all the drain pipes from Sector 30 onwards will have to be replaced. This needs a lot of time. We are working on it, but nothing concrete has been done.

Q: What has been done to tackle water-logging this year?

We are in the process of cleaning the road gullies and the entire work will be completed by June 30. Regarding the accumulation of water at roundabouts, we have replaced the existing drainage pipes at some rotaries.

Q: Can you assure the residents that they will not be inundated this year?

It depends on the intensity of the rainfall. We had an extreme rain event on August 21 last year. Some sectors can handle only 15 mm of rain per hour, while others can absorb 25 mm rain per hour.

Residents Take

Amardeep Singh, president of RWA, Sector 39 said, “Every year, the civic body spends a huge amount on cleaning the road gullies, but there is no respite from water-logging. There is no record of the number of gullies cleaned on a road. Most are cleaned on papers alone.”

“Officers should involve both area councillor and RWAs to ensure proper cleaning of road gullies. Also, why are they cleaned only in the rainy season. Also, sweepers should be told not to throw garbage in the gullies,” said Mukesh Bassi, former MC councillor.

First Published: Jun 20, 2018 11:46 IST