The rains come at last, but Delhi is crippled (Night Lead)

July 28th, 2009 - 12:03 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 27 (IANS) The monsoon’s heaviest rainfall Monday almost flooded the Indian capital, disrupting flights, inundating low-lying areas and snapping traffic lights, causing havoc all across the city.
Nearly seven hours of virtual non-stop downpour initially appeared to be the much awaited answer for a sweltering city but quickly turned life into a chaotic mess.

Delhi received 70 mm of rainfall till 8.30 p.m., the highest for this season, the meteorological department said. More rains and thundershowers are expected Tuesday.

Trees were uprooted and overhead electrical cables collapsed in some areas, adding to the woes of people hit hard by huge pile-ups on roads and overflowing drains.

Among the worst hit was the newly built domestic complex at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, delaying over 15 flights. One official said: “If the rains continue, they will affect international flights too.”

Arriving and departing passengers had a tough time wading through water outside the terminal ID. An official admitted that it would take hours to clear the area of water.

The heavy showers began in the afternoon, taking most people by surprise. Within hours, there was disorder on the streets.

A Delhi Traffic Police officer told IANS that traffic lights failed in several areas, causing massive traffic jams, in some area stretching up to a kilometre. In most places, vehicles crawled.

Numerous autorickshaws broke down, their drivers blaming the low-floor gas engines for their misery.

Most buses of the state-run Delhi Transport Corp (DTC) went off the roads, causing hardships to thousands of commuters.

Even in the better organised Luyten’s Delhi, there was no respite. MPs leaving the Rajya Sabha complained their vehicles were struck for hours on overflowing streets.

Some roads and large parts of many roads simply went under water, thanks to choking drains. In some areas, drain water overflowed on to the roads.

“There is a lot of traffic congestion. The signals stopped functioning at several places. In the first two to three hours we got 20 complaints,” the traffic official said.

Complaints of traffic jams came from all over the city. Some of the worst hit areas were near the Rajghat and India Gate in central Delhi and Dhaula Kuan, AIIMS flyover and Lajpat Nagar in south Delhi.

Power outages were reported in many areas.

The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) control room was inundated with complaints of flooding in several residential areas.

“Water logging was reported from Chattarsal Stadium, Model Town, Azadpur Bus Stand, near Munirka and Dwarka,” MCD spokesperson Deep Mathur said.

Trees toppled in east Delhi. A compound wall collapsed in west Delhi’s Jahangirpuri.

The first burst of rainfall did not kill the muggy weather but the weather improved later in the evening.

The minimum temperature was recorded at 30.1 degrees Celsius Monday morning, three degrees above the average during this time of year. The maximum was 36.6 degrees Celsius, three notches above the normal.

Rita Joshi, an office-goer, said she was caught unawares by the rains.

“When it started raining, I thought it will be the usual drizzle and will be over soon. However, when I reached my bus stop, I was surprised. The water level on the roads had risen so much that I had to fold up my jeans till my knees,” she said.

Sanjay Sharma, who works in Kirti Nagar in west Delhi, got stuck on the arterial Ring Road on his way home.

“The road was choked and many cars had broken down because of water logging,” he said.

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