MCD caught napping as early monsoon leaves Delhi water-logged

June 19th, 2008 - 5:30 pm ICT by IANS  

By Subodh Gupta
New Delhi, June 19 (IANS) The monsoon may have brought respite from the summer heat by arriving two weeks ahead of schedule, but it has also exposed the lack of preparedness of the civic authorities to tackle the resulting potholed roads, blocked drains and streets filled with slushy water. Shailendra Kumar, a resident of Seemapuri in northeast Delhi, said: “The early monsoon might be a blessing since it’s not hot anymore but travelling through water logged roads is not a joke. The MCD is not at all geared to face the rains this time. They were really caught sleeping.”

The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) began the process of desilting the drains in March but the work is yet less than one-fourth completed.

“We are trying to complete the pending desilting work. We started the work way back in March,” Delhi Mayor Arti Mehra told IANS.

There are 1,400 drains in Delhi and only 200 drains have been cleaned so far, she added.

However, Deputy Mayor Divya Jaiswal believes Delhi is ready to face the monsoon rains.

“We will soon get rid of all the silt in the drains,” he said. “The problem will only be around low-lying and encroached areas.”

“Today, the work of removing silt was done in various parts of the city. We are ready to welcome the early onset of monsoon”, K.S. Mehra, MCD Commissioner told IANS

The pending work means a nightmare for motorists and commuters who have to wade through potholed and waterlogged roads. The MCD control room is flooded with panic calls from people complaining about dirty water entering their homes, drains that are uncovered or roads that need to be repaired.

Many Delhiites complain that MCD workers take out slush from the drains but leave it nearby. It then seeps back into the drains when it rains over the city.

Jyoti Bhatia, a resident of Anand Vihar in east Delhi, said she is afraid of falling into an open drain while walking on water logged roads.

“Last year, a girl was walking ahead of me and suddenly she disappeared. Only her dupatta was left floating in the water. As it was a busy road, we were able to save her. But that was enough to give me a nightmare. I avoid walking on waterlogged roads. But sometimes its difficult as everywhere it is a common sight,” she added.

Waking up to the need to avoid a repeat of Mumbai or Kolkata, where roads look like ponds during the monsoons, the MCD called an emergency meeting Monday.

Vijender Gupta, chairman of the MCD Standing Committee, which takes the administrative decisions, said they have asked 102 permanent pumping stations to be prepared to tackle water logging, especially in low-lying areas.

He said 1,100 additional workers had been hired to dispose off the silt.

Bhatia said the civic agency should be more proactive. “Every year, the situation is the same. Only New Delhi and pockets of south Delhi areas remain unaffected. But other parts of the city are neglected,” she said.

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