De-silting delay may choke city drains yet again

With work on cleaning the drains pending across the city and sludge lying on the roadsides, clogged roads and traffic jams are likely to return this monsoon

NEWDELHI: Heavy pre-monsoon showers lashed the Capital last week washing off tall claims made by the civic agencies that the city was prepared for the rains.


Though it’s been over 10 days since the deadline for de-silting — June 15 — got over, the work is still in progress at many drains. Civic bodies, however, claim they have finished their share of work.

Meteorologists say monsoon may hit Delhi by the end of this month.

Every year, Delhi comes down on its knees with widespread waterlogging. Not only low-lying areas but major traffic junctions also get inundated. Despite promises, little is delivered in reality.


The Public Works Department (PWD), which covers 1,260 kms of major roads (above 60 ft wide) in city, claims to have cleaned 80% of the drains. People in many areas, however, complained that the drains haven’t been cleaned. “The civic body is yet to de-silt the drains. On the Basant Kaur Marg, PWD started the work two weeks ago and it has not been finished yet,” said Atul Kapur, a resident of Shivalik.

Massive jams were triggered by the heavy rain on June 19, showing little has been achieved on the ground. On June 21, the Delhi High Court slammed the three MCDs for not being able to do their job.

This is despite the fact that lieutenant governor Anil Baijal has constituted a committee to monitor the de-silting work across Delhi.


BEGINNING OF BLAME-GAME

More than two weeks back, the mayor of both the east and north corporations approached chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and complained that PWD and other agencies were not cooperating in the efforts to de-silting drains.

The mayor of North MCD, Preety Agarwal, shared a list of 25 places where major drains are not cleaned despite repeated requests.

“We inspected the PWD drains. It seems the departments concerned have not even started the de-silting work here,” said Agarwal on June 13.


Unhappy with the work, Kejriwal wrote a letter to chief secretary MM Kutty seeking action against PWD secretary Ashwin Kumar. Kumar hit back saying, “negativity and squabbling” do not help.

THE CLAIMS

The three corporations claim to have de-silted 1,484.21 kms of drains falling in their jurisdiction.

To verify the claims, Delhi Assembly’s petition committee recently visited the areas. “We carried the joint inspection with officials in North, South and East Delhi, but far from the promises of MCDs and PWD, we found silt/garbage in these drains,” said Saurabh Bhardwaj, member of the petition committee.


REASON FOR DELAY

PWD officials maintained that they don’t have enough staff and resources for de-silting and they are entirely dependent on contractors. “We don’t have our own machinery and staff for de-silting,” said SK Srivastava, engineer-in-chief, PWD.

However, many drains are under the Irrigation and Flood Control Department and Delhi Jal Board, he said.

On the other hand, civic bodies also face the challenge of cleaning the drains in illegal colonies, most of which do not even have a drainage system.

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