Gurgaon’s waterlogged roads after the recent rains highlighted the utter failure of civic authorities. But the situation was not unforeseeable.
Environmentalists have been raising concerns about clogged drains, rampant destruction of natural ponds and embankments for quite some time, but to no effect.
Being a low-lying region, Gurgaon receives rainwater run-off from both the Aravallis and Chhattarpur. Building artificial drains over natural ones have made civic agencies’ errors more egregious.
Vivek Kamboj, founder of Haryali, an NGO, said, “From the lack of flood control measures to delays in construction of artificial water bodies and cleaning of drains, many things contributed to crippling the system. The process of concretisation is ecologically disastrous.”
The Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon had decided to redevelop ponds into water bodies and had identified Sukhrali pond, Kadipur pond, Basai pond, Sirhaul pond and Jhazgarh bond for the project. They would have been catchment areas to accumulate rain water and help recharge ground water.
But the work for the same has been completed only for Basai pond. Moreover, the work on the other ponds is likely to be hampered due to the presence of excess moisture in the ground, which would impede binding and settling of stones.
Amit Chaudhery, a naturalist, said, “The entire natural drainage of the city has been encroached upon. The concretisation of the drains destroys groundwater recharge, constricts the natural flow of water, kills several life forms thriving in these natural water channels and irreversibly alters the natural landscape.”
In Sector 72, an artificial lake was to be built to keep water from flowing into NH-8 and northern sectors. To divert rainwater, the Khandsa drain had to be extended along NH-8. But so far, only work on the upcoming artificial lake in Sector 53 has been initiated. It is also not clear if the MCG or the forest department or both would execute the Ghata check dam project.
According to experts, there used to be a proper rainwater management system pioneered by the British, which has been completely destroyed in the rush to build more apartments and commercial complexes. Water channels, ravines and natural drains that used to absorb rainwater coming from Aravalis have completely vanished in the last three decades. Important embankments at Ghata, Jharsa, Chakkarpur, Nathupur and near the Sirhaul toll plaza are not there anymore, forcing water onto the roads.
Kamboj said that the natural drain network is beyond repair now and can only be revived by an artificial drain. “The catchment areas of Ghata, Dhauj and Sultanpur have been encroached upon, which used to hold a lot of water. The forest department is completely blindfolded on the issue and has been giving permission to builders for construction work,” he said.