Waterlogging In Delhi: More Than Just A Problem

Posted on October 8, 2011 in Society

By Anjora Sarangi:

Way back in 1996 one of my relatives who was an officer at the government of India came back from a tour of Japan and related an account revealing the difference between the way the Japanese think about their future and the way we do in India. Opposed to our 5 years planning system, the Japanese planning is over a span of 400 years at a time. In comparison, the planning that is done by the Planning Commission seems myopic. The problem lies not only in the planning but also its execution.

The monsoon this year in Delhi has been erratic with scattered few bursts of rain across the months of July to September but even few days of heavy showers have brought on flooded, choked streets with squelch and muck, fallen soggy trees and leaves, clogged drainage, aggressive traffic jams, power cuts, roads caving in; in short, the capital is in mayhem.

A few weeks ago, the downpours have accounted to almost the entire season’s worth of rain. Even a 90 minute lashing of rain on 16th September brought the city to a standstill jamming the streets of Mayur Vihar, Laxmi Nagar, Preet Vihar, Lajpat Nagar, Geeta Colony, Nizamuddin Bridge, Rajghat, ITO, and almost everywhere else. Kriti Bansal, a student at Lady Shri Ram College was stuck in traffic for almost three hours near the Delhi-Ghaziabad border and ultimately had to go back on the same route not making it even half way to the college.

On Thursday, the 15th, the beautiful Terminal 3 of the IGI Airport was a horrific sight submerged in stale water after the incessant showers. The flooding of the roads and highways led to several passengers missing their flights. Many flights were delayed and diverted due to the disruptions caused by the rains. The runways and taxiways were too inundated. Metro services were also delayed up to 30 minutes and it was a flyers’ nightmare.

The MCD received 143 complaints of waterlogging from across the city by Friday afternoon. A 30 year old man was electrocuted to death in North Delhi after stepping into a puddle with live wires. Six people lost their lives in Ghaziabad after a lightning strike. Around 200 DTC buses broke down The MCD is conveniently washing its hands off the blame.

This is not a novel story for this city. Every year, come monsoons and Delhi becomes a whirlpool of distress, dirt and damage. The problem lies in the faulty drainage and silting systems of the city. The MCD had claimed to be fully prepared for the monsoons but all its tall promises have fallen through. The Delhi Police had identified 150 roads that face the heaviest traffic. The target of removing one lakh metric tonnes of silt from drains before the monsoon was achieved. The civic agency had also positioned 525 portable pumps and 14 high discharged mobile diesel pump sets in all the zones. Moreover, the control room to receive complaints about waterlogging was made operational throughout the day. Despite these seemingly massive measures, the results are there in front of us to observe. The image of the city is marred and hardly worth showing to the outside world.

The need of the hour is to take immediate measures so that the city does not experience waterlogging of such magnitude. The main reason for this chaos is the storm water drains in the city which are archaic and inefficient. In the absence of an efficient drainage system, the water does not have an outlet and therefore gets accumulated. There is need to upgrade and increase the number of storm water drains in the city.

The rains are meant to bring happiness, beauty, coolness and bounty when they arrive and fill people with joy; instead monsoon in Delhi is a season of complete wreckage from which the city must resurface every year. The weather gods are merciless to this city and its inability to cope with this harshness adds to its woes. The civic system needs to be strengthened to fortify against the torrential rain which seems to attack its very core exposing gaping holes and gushing wounds on the surface.