Are Delhi roads prepared for the monsoon?


New Delhi : Just four days of moderate rain was all it needed to show up the familiar sight of water-logged roads and traffic snarls – a peek into what is in store if Delhi's drains don't cleaned up ahead of the impending monsoon. And a worried city is wondering if the authorities can do that.

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According to data available with the Delhi government, at least half of the city drains are yet to be cleaned, though the deadline to complete the cleaning – or de-silting – is June 25, four days before the expected date of monsoon reaching Delhi.

Till June 18, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) had cleaned 137 drains and work was on in over 600. The civic body has the responsibility to de-silt 1,265 drains, including 157 transferred from the public works department (PWD) last year.

State Urban Development and PWD Minister A.K. Walia had last week expressed deep concern over the pace of work by the MCD.

"The work they have done is not visible, and there are apprehensions that the work of de-silting may not be completed by June 29 – the expected date of arrival of the monsoon in Delhi," Walia had observed.

Even the PWD is unsatisfied over the progress made so far.

"We had handed over 157 drains under our jurisdiction to MCD and it's now their responsibility to make it ready for the monsoon. If the city is getting water-logged in four days of rain, then it's an indication of ill preparedness," PWD engineer-in-chief R. Subramaniam told IANS.

Reacting to observations that the work was far from done, MCD officials were quick to assure that it would be completed by the end of the month.

"Work is going on in more than 600 drains and we shall finish de-silting the drains under us before June 30," said a MCD spokesman.

However, the Irrigation and Flood Control (IFC) department has been working to clean up the 16 major drains under its jurisdiction. The IFC department says it has finished 80 percent of its work.

Of the estimated 503,250 cubic meters of silt in the 16 drains, the IFC department has removed over 400,000 cubic metres so far. The government has requested the Delhi Metro Rail Corp to take care of the drains near Rohtak Road, Model Town, Kanhaiya Nagar Parking and Vikas Marg.

The generous rainfall in the capital since last weekend while it brought respite from the intense heat, led to water-logging on roads, traffic jams and over flowing of drains, causing huge problems for commuters.

The roads in Mukherjee Nagar in north Delhi got choked after an hour of rain on Monday.

"I had to fold up my trousers up to the knees to cross the road in Mukherjee Nagar. There were a few cars marooned on the flooded road. Delhi is not prepared to face such heavy rain," said Nazvi Ahmed, a resident.

The national capital on average receives 55 mm rain in June, but the four days of rain brought almost double that amount.