Concrete slabs built to cover I’puram storm drain; violation of NGT order?
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Concrete slabs built to cover I’puram storm drain; violation of NGT order?

Four concrete ramps have been constructed over the open storm drain where last week a man had died after falling into it. But isn't it a violation of NGT order that prohibits any covering of the drain.

Concrete slabs built to cover I’puram storm drain; violation of NGT order?

A week after a 26-year-old man died after falling into an open drain in Indirapuram, four concrete ramps have been constructed over the drain allegedly by the owner of the liquor shop where the incident had occurred. While two of them are ready, the other two are still under construction.

The man had accidentally slipped from the wooden plank placed over the drain in front of a liquor shop – adjacent to Divyansh Pratham, a high rise in Indirapuram – and fell into it. The ramps have been constructed to replace the same wooden planks.

The staff of the liquor shop confirmed that their owner was constructing the ramps. When asked if they had taken permission from the Ghaziabad Development Authority (GDA), they said that GDA officials have only asked the owner to build the ramps.

“It is for the safety of our customers,” a staffer said requesting anonymity.


Violation of NGT Order

However, the construction of ramps is a violation of rules as it is a storm drain and as per National Green Tribunal (NGT) order, covering of storm drains through permanent construction is prohibited. Any permanent construction acts as a hurdle in the maintenance of drain and also obstructs the release of gases from it. Civic authorities also see it as encroachment.

But the practice is rampant across Indirapuram. Almost every society falling on the CISF Road, to which the drain runs parallel, has constructed ramps over it for the ease of mobility of their vehicles.

In November 2018, GDA vice chairperson Kanchan Verma, after a survey of Indirapuram, had warned the housing societies to remove encroachments or face police action. However, neither ramps were removed, nor any action was taken.

While it is against the law to cover the drain, a large section of residents supports it as more than convenience, it offers them safety.

“These massive drains if left open are nothing but an open invitation to more such deadly incidents,” said Shaili Singh, a resident of Exotica Elegance, a high-rise in Indirapuram.

"The storm drain running next to our society, goes as deep as 10 feet. If any kid falls into it while playing, would the child survive? Who will be responsible for it?” asked Kapil Tyagi, secretary of AOA of Divyansh Pratham, a high-rise situated next to the drain on CISF Road.

Commenting on this, GDA chief of Indirapuram, RP Singh, said that their hands are tied by the NGT order. “If we cover these drains, then it would be a contempt of court's order,” he added.

The open drain also becomes a breeding ground for vector-borne diseases in summers. "We all know how well the GDA maintains these drains. During summers, the authority asks us not to accumulate water but the same authority is risking our lives by keeping the drain open," Shaili added.


The other way out?

Speaking on the matter, Alok Kumar, a social activist who has been raising civic mismanagement issues in trans-Hindon, said that if GDA wants then it can provide an alternative solution.

“The authority can ask residents and housing societies to remove their permanent ramps and install removable iron grills and nets over the drain. GDA should also do the same in view of the safety of residents,” Kumar commented. “It will provide safety to residents and will not obstruct the cleaning exercise. It will not violate the court's order as well.”

When City Spidey asked RP Singh whether the authority is considering this idea, he said that currently, they are not looking at any such option.

In a span of eight months, the drain has claimed two lives. In addition to the last week’s fatal incident, an eight-year-old girl had died after falling into the same drain eight months back.