Same old story in new rain record

Cars floated on the Delhi roads on Thursday after it received the season’s heaviest downpour at 104.52 mm. Trees were uprooted and four buildings collapsed in incessant showers, injuring nine persons. By evening, the rain petered down to a drizzle but widespread snarls crippled key roads, bringing traffic to a halt.

As the city continues to grapple with the monsoon conundrum — even a smart shower is enough to sink the roads — civic experts blame heavy construction activities because of the Commonwealth Games for the sorry state of the city’s clogged roads and sewage system.

“ Construction activities along roads affect the drainage system badly. This is the main reason why Delhi is experiencing increased instances of waterlogging this time,” Dr Nishi Mittal, head of the traffic engineering and safety division at the Central Road Research Institute in Delhi, says.

Echoing him, Rakesh Mishra, engineer- in- chief of the PWD, says, “ Due to heavy concretisation of the roads, their self- absorption capacity has diminished. That’s why we need to install suction pumps to pump out water from the roads.” According to Mittal, construction materials for street- scaping projects or even for carpeting of the roads are piled up alongside the roads, blocking water inlets. Sand, cement and gravel flow into storm water drains, blocking them, leading to heavy waterlogging at most of the arterial roads in Delhi.

The only place in the city which is relatively free from waterlogging is the Cantonment area in West Delhi.

“Most of the roads there are not concretised. Water flows out easily and doesn’t affect the traffic flow,” senior planner and architect Sarat C. Jain, who designed the Dhaula Kuan clover leaf flyover, says.

He warns that waterlogging will remain a problem in the city if the town planners don’t replicate the Cantonment model. He suggests that water deposited on the road can be easily harvested provided agencies that handle Delhi’s roads and drains work in tandem.

The easiest way to get rid of the stagnant water is to channelise it to the other side of a road. “ Road agencies need to construct drains below every footpath for this purpose,” Jain says.

In the longer run, he advises that Delhi should follow the example of Bawana industrial complex. There were serious issues of waterlogging in Bawana before rainwater harvesting system was implemented.

G. C. Dwivedi, DCP south ( traffic), feels the poor condition of the drainage system is the main reason for waterlogging. “ The drainage system should have been planned well in advance. The sorry state reveals that these agencies hardly maintain our drainage system. In case of waterlogged underpasses, he suggests pumps should be pressed into use,” Dwivedi says.


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