July 28 has been etched in the mind of every commuter in Gurgaon last year. It was the day the city came to a standstill due to torrential rains, and unable to handle the volume of water, saw vehicles stranded on the city's waterlogged streets for hours. Some even had to leave their vehicles and walk back home.
The flood had forced the then incumbent Gurgaon district commissioner TL Satyaprakash to impose Section 144 on July 29, asking all government officials to be on the ground. July 29 and July 30 were declared school holidays.
So is Gurgaon ready to handle the situation, if a similar crisis strikes this year?
Waterlogging in the monsoons has always been a major problem in Gurgaon. This year, in an attempt to avoid last year's debacle, the Haryana government has warned Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA), Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) and the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) to ensure every measure this year.
“The administration is fully prepared this year," said Vinay Pratap Singh, DC Gurgaon. "The city's drains are being desilted and we have adequate staff for emergency and installation of motor pumps. Complete arrangements have been made with the police and the traffic department to prevent waterlogging and traffic snarls.”
“We have closed four subsidiary channels that flow into Badshahpur to reduce pressure during heavy rains," said Sweta Sharma, executive engineer, HUDA. "Besides, we have desilted 18 km of this drain and constructed a culvert at Khandsa. As many as seven motor pumps are in place near Khandsa drain to pump out water in case of a flood. We hope Khandsa drain will not cause backflow this year. HUDA has placed two additional 650-m-long big-size pipes across the Khandsa village, which will carry out flood water from the national highway."
However, experts say temporary arrangements will never work.
“Rainwater flows from Aravalli in the east, crosses the main city and NH 8, and goes towards Najafgarh drain," said Prof Gauhar Mehmud, HoD, Civil Engineering, Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi. "Most of the subsidiary drains emanating from the hills are located in the east and merge with the Badshahpur drain. The district administration does not have a master plan to streamline the stormwater and use it for recharging. The main drain is hardly desilted and many sewer lines are also connected to it, causing siltation. A 600-m portion is the main reason behind the flooding of NH 8 every year."
The lack of rainwater harvesting is another problem. Gurgaon’s average rainfall is 595 mm, of which 90 per cent goes waste.
According to a report submitted to the Ministry of Urban Development, the natural course of runoff rainwater from the Aravallis flowing through the Badshahpur drain into the Najafgarh drain, and consequently emptying into the Yamuna, had a blockage owing to silt deposits. Owing to the deposits, water flows back towards Gurgaon, flooding the city. One of the main areas prone to waterlogging is Hero Honda Chowk, a low-lying area, which is also a busy traffic junction. To tackle this, the authorities have decided to instal 19 pumps at the junction this year. However, there is yet to be a suitable solution as to where the water will be channeled.
The police, on its part, is also deploying officials on the roads to prevent jams and waterlogging this year and is working in close coordination with the civic agencies.
“The police has identified 23 spots and deployed teams for traffic management and emergency response in the rains," said Gurgaon police commissioner Sandeep Khirwar. Last year the police had identified 14 spots.
“The traffic department has been issuing warnings, and information is being shared on social media to keep commuters in the know,” said Simardeep Singh, DCP traffic. He added that he had been taking rounds of the city, especially during peak hours and in the rains, to check whether traffic personnel were on duty.TAGS: Gurgaon / Rains / Flooding / Waterlogging / Monsoons