Rain check: Mohali set for monsoon blues
Come clouds and the monsoon blues hit the residents of SAS Nagar. Even though the authorities claim to have prepared for the rains by clearing 90% of the road gullies, the recent showers exposed their lie. Roads turned into mini rivulets, markets were waterlogged, and traffic moved at a snail’s pace.
This is an annual affliction. While residents get ready with their umbrellas and raincoats, the authorities blunder around. It’s a case of too many agencies and too little accountability. Four different agencies are tasked with monsoon preparedness in SAS Nagar. They include the Municipal Corporation, Punjab water supply and sanitation department, Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) and Punjab State Industries and Export Corporation (PSIEC).
This year, the civic body claims to have fast-tracked the work of cleaning the sewerage and drainage system, but the residents say the opposite. They complain that the road gullies on the internal roads of sectors and phases are blocked.
In 2008, then municipal council (now corporation) had claimed to have cleared a proposal for upgrading the drainage system in SAS Nagar under Jawahar Lal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. GMADA had also tied up with the urban drainage department of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Mumbai, to come up with solutions to the ineffective storm water drainage system. But the situation on the ground remains unchanged.
Every year, as per the protocol, the public health department submits the estimates for the cleaning of road gullies and the MC approves the funds required. But some of the sectors and phases are still managed by GMADA.
Covering a geographic area of 1189 sq.km, the district was created by carving out two blocks (Sialba Majra and Kharar) from Ropar district and one (Dera Bassi) from Patiala district. While the Ghaggar river and its tributaries form the natural drainage system for the Dera Bassi block of the district, its north-eastern part is drained by Siswan Nadi, Jayanti Devi Ki Rao and Patiala ki Rao, which emerge from the Shivalik Hills.SAS Nagar’s storm water drains into the Lakhnour choe.
STUDY BY PEC
Engineers from the PEC University of Technology had conducted a study to find out the problem in the city’s drainage and suggest solutions. Pointing out that the drainage system of the city was very old, they had called for laying a 26-km new pipeline with a diameter of 80mm to 100mm to allow discharge of large volumes of water. The team had also mooted a rainwater harvesting system and discharge of water into Patiala Ki Rao.
Consequently, the MC prepared a detailed project report, which is pending with the Punjab government for the last six months. The cost of the project is expected to be around Rs 165 crore. MC now claims to be undertaking reconditioning of sewer and storm water drainage. The lining will be repaired to increase the carrying capacity of the lines. “We will do re-conditioning of the pipes but no digging will be done to replace the pipes as wires and pipes of many other service operators such as water supply, telephone et al are laid alongside.”
Engineers in the public health department says waterlogging takes place only when the intensity of rain increases and the drainage system is unable to cope with the flow. The drainage is directly linked to the final outlet, the Lakhnour choe which has been encroached upon. It is also seldom desilted or cleaned. The result is waterlogging.
Most of the road gullies are blocked. We’ve never seen any machines being used. At times, the rain water gets mixed with sewage. EWS flats in various parts of SAS Nagar and Phases V and VII are the worst hit. ---Paramjit Singh, President, Citizens Welfare and Development Forum, Phase VII
Waterlogging in Phase 5 is a perpetual problem. We face it year after year. Residents of low-lying areas are the worst affected during rains. Lack of proper drainage system and potholed roads compound the problem. ---Baljit Kaur, President of HE quarter welfare association, Phase 5
The Phase 11 flats in the 1301-to-1457 block are in a bad shape. The drainage pipes are very small. We had prepared estimates for expanding the pipe size, but to no avail. GMADA repairs have also gone waste. This problem has been lingering for 10 years. ---SS Barnala, President, RWA, Phase 11
We have been facing waterlogging for years now. There is waterlogging on the road between Sectors 78 and 87. Often, sewage gets blocked and starts overflowing. The poor condition of the roads adds to the chaos during the monsoons. --- Krishna Mittu, President, RWA, Sector 78
The road gullies are not cleaned properly. They only clean the upper surface of the gullies but the cross-section remains blocked. The road level too is rising every year due to patch work. Despite several requests, GMADA has failed to level the roads. ---K L Sharma, President, RWA, 10 marla block, Phase 3A
The problem is created by the MC and GMADA. The sector-dividing roads are above the plinth level of the houses because they are laying pre-mix without considering the plinth level of the houses. About 25 years ago, there was hardly any waterlogging here. There are two natural choes, one is passing along the PCA stadium on the road dividing Phase 9 and 10, 66 and 67. The other one is Patiala ki Rao behind Balongi village. These two are sufficient for drainage of water. But the rise in sector-dividing roads obstructs the natural flow of water and it does not reach the choe. An open drain has been constructed near old Amartex light point which will help. Instead of discharging all the water in Lakhnour choe, they should divide it between in Patiala ki Rao and another choe. --- NS Kalsi, former XEN. Greater Mohali Area Development Authority
SAS Nagar is adjoining a hilly area,and there is a slope towards SAS Nagar. The rain water coming from hills flows down to the nullahs due to the slope. The underground absorption and seepage is less because the ground is not levelled. An underwater reservoir should be constructed, and underground water charging wells should be made and connected with storm water. Rain water we should be collected in surface tanks for irrigation. ---GR Jakhu, Ex Chief Engineer, Punjab Urban Development Authority
FACE TO FACE | ALMOST 90% OF THE ROAD GULLIES HAVE BEEN CLEANED: JAGJIT SINGH DHAMI, EXECUTIVE ENGINEER, PHD, SAS NAGAR
What are the standard measures you take before monsoon?
We prepare an estimate and submit it to the Municipal Corporation. After the budget gets clearance, we float tenders for cleaning the road gullies. This process usually begins around May. The gullies are cleaned both manually and with suction pipes. Almost 90% of the gullies have been already cleaned up.
Why is waterlogging a perennial problem in SAS Nagar?
There is no structural problem. Generally, the water drains within 15 to 20 minutes. When the rainfall is more than double, it takes time for the water to recede.
In SAS Nagar, the gullies are constructed on the roadsides, and the water is drained through a pipe into the Lakhnour choe.
What are the new steps you are taking to combat waterlogging this year?
Every year we set up teams and get the road gullies cleaned up. We also depute JEs and SDOs for this task.
(SECOND PART OF FIVE-PART SERIES, NEXT: PANCHKULA )