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With not a single gully cleaned, Panchkula residents fear flooding in monsoons

With its term ending on July 2, the Panchkula MC seems to be least concerned about rain readiness in the city, and no contractor seems ready to take up this work.

punjab Updated: Jun 21, 2018 12:21 IST
Yuvraj Kaushal
Yuvraj Kaushal
Hindustan Times, Panchkula
Panchkula,Municipal Corporation,Panchkula MC
A blocked road gully at Sector 11 in Panchkula is already overflowing on a rain-free day.(Sant Arora /HT)

Even though Panchkula’s topography makes it vulnerable to flooding, and rains are just a few days away, the Municipal Corporation is yet to start its annual preparations for the monsoons. While its neighbouring city of Chandigarh has cleaned 70% of its road gullies, Panchkula MC, which is on its last leg, is yet to start work.

Ideally, the gullies and storm water drains that overflow if they are choked, should have been cleaned by mid-June. But the MC is in a piquant situation: It floated 19 tenders for this work thrice, but received just one bid.

The civic body invited tenders for the third time on June 1, only to draw a blank again. An MC official, requesting anonymity, said, “We were expecting many bids but nobody showed any interest. This may be due to the ongoing infighting in the MC.”

With the five-year term of the MC ending on July 2, the municipal house is rife with allegations and counter-allegations over the alleged irregularities in development works. Be it the mayor, MC officials or the councillors, no one appears to be bothered about rain readiness.

19 tenders, one bid

MC commissioner Rajesh Jogpal said the first tender for road gullies was floated on May 3 and opened on May 11. After this tender received no response, another one was floated on May 15.

“In the second tender opened on May 22, only a single bid was received against a tender. There are 18 tenders which have still not received any bids. They were re-invited for the third time, but the response was the same,” said Jogpal.

The MC has earmarked a sum of Rs 98.15 lakh for this work. “As there were no bids for the road gully tenders, we have decided to get the work done on quotation basis at the earliest,” he added. Water-logging is a common sight at several places in the city during the monsoon. According to the norms, road gullies should be covered with cement lids and iron meshes, and leveled with the pavements for safety, but at many places they are lying open, and have been reduced to dumps by passersby.

Treating the trouble spots

Last year on August 21, it rained misery on the roads and many parts of Panchkula were waterlogged. People were stuck in the deluge and the distance they would have normally covered in 15 to 20 minutes took them close to two hours.

Commissioner Jogpal said the civic body plans to introduce rainwater harvesting at five trouble spots. “Rainwater harvesting is underway in Sector 12A and at four different spots in Sector 19, which is the worst affected part of the city. It will be completed by the beginning of the monsoon,” he added.

Rainwater entered 50 homes in the low-lying Sector 19 last year. Sector 16 was also hit hard when water entered many houses due to acute water-logging near the Bel factory.

MC’s sub-divisional officer (SDO), engineering wing, Mahender Singh claimed that after last year’s monsoon, they had got all the road gullies and drains cleaned through a private contractor. “The process to allot work orders for road gullies is under way; however, the cleaning and maintenance work has been carried out once. Work will gather pace in the coming week,” he said, claiming that all is well with the drainage system and they are well prepared.

Road gullies in different sectors are between 2 and 3 feet long, while big drains are more than 6 feet in length. “We have cleaned up all the big drains in the city, including ones that falls on the Chandigarh border,” said Singh.

However, president of citizen welfare association SK Nayyar said that last year’s downpour was enough to expose MC’s preparedness. “All the intersections were under 2-3 feet of water within one hour of the rainfall. I doubt that MC will be able to handle the situation this monsoon,” he said.

It is the second time that MC will look after monsoon readiness in the form of cleanliness of storm water drains in Panchkula. Until 2016, this job was entrusted to the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA).

Roads recarpeted, but sewers blocked

The rutted roads led to several accidents during the last year’s monsoons, but this year the civic body has re-carpeted almost all the roads though patch work is still underway in some areas.

But the sewer system remains a problem, especially near the group housing societies in Sector 20. The MC had promised to install pumps to drain all the sewage logged there for decades, but the problem persists.

Panchkula mayor Upinder Kaur Ahluwalia, who is also the councillor of Sector 20, said, “Pumps have been installed at a few places. The problem of sewage accumulation will be solved once more sewerage lines are laid and more pumps are put in place.”

Karan Lamba, a resident of GH-84, Sector 20, complained that the residents had not found any improvement in sewerage. He said: “The MC has not done anything in this regard, the housing societies are making their own arrangements to avoid any inconvenience.”

First Published: Jun 21, 2018 12:20 IST