SIX HOURS, 15 minutes; and 134 mm rain. That is how much it poured over Tricity in just one quarter of the day, completely disrupting life in Chandigarh for the better part of Monday. City Beautiful’s drainage proved simply inadequate for the ferocity with which the skies opened up to dump water on the region, resulting in the mother of all deluges.
Residential sectors, arterial roads, inner lanes, parks — nothing was spared today as the rain began pounding from about 6.30 am until about 10 am, and then intermittently with less intensity for about a couple of hours more. Across the city, vehicles stood paralysed on roads filled with water.
Commuters spent hours stranded in their vehicles till the situation returned to normal sometime after 12.30 pm. Parks turned into lakes. Water entered homes. The city’s low-lying areas were the worst affected. Monday’s rainfall was the highest for the month of August in 13 years. “By 8.30 am the city had received about 18.8 mm rain. From 8.30 am to 12:15 pm the rainfall recorded was 115.2 mm,” said Ashu Dogra, an official of Chandigarh Met department.
Skymet, a private weather forecaster, said 112 mm rain fell between 8.30 am and 11.30 am. Before this, the city received 241.6 mm rainfall over an entire day in August 3, 2004. Mayor Asha Jaswal conceded that the Municipal Corporation does not have any action plan if the city receives such high rainfall. She acknowledged the problems faced by city residents and said since the last house meet, the corporation had been looking for ways to handle the problem.
“I won’t deny that currently, the city does not have any plan for the density of the rain which the city has received today but certainly we are talking with experts and consultants to help the MC have a proper action plan. Since the time when the city was designed, we have preparations for only 50mm rainfall,” Jaswal told Chandigarh Newsline.
A team of mayor, municipal commissioner and area councillors also visited rain-affected areas. The mayor said that during their visit, the officials found that Mauli Jagran, Vikas Nagar, Sector 18, 19 Sadar Bazar, Sector 21 and Hallo Majra were the worst affected as water had entered houses. “We have identified the spots. A meeting with officials has been called on Wednesday,” said Jaswal.
Chandigarh residents struggled to go about their everyday chores as it poured. Sanjeev Malhotra, a resident of Sector 40-C, Chandigarh, said, “My son studies in a private school in Sector 37. On normal days it takes me only 20 minutes to drop him but today due to waterlogging, commuting became a difficult task as it took me almost 45 minutes to reach Sector 40-41 light points. Later, because of the waterlogging at the school, my car was stopped in the middle of the road. As a result, I had to return leaving my car there.”
Many two-wheeler riders could be seen pushing their bikes and scooters, while pedestrians, including schoolchildren, waded through thigh-deep water at many places. “The downpour not only paralysed the life of the residents but also exposed the tall claims of the MC officials. My daughter studies at Government School in Sector 40-B, Chandigarh, which is hardly 10 minutes away from my house. Since it was raining, so I took my cycle to drop but even my street was flooded with water. I assisted several motorcyclists as their vehicles stopped and they had to push the vehicles to move them off the street,” said Sagar, a resident of Sector 41, Chandigarh.
Good News on Sukhna Front
n One positive outcome amid all the disruption caused by Monday’s heavy downpour was the increase in the water level of Sukhna Lake by 2.30 ft, raising it from 1,158 feet to 1,160.30 feet. A senior officer said, “A team of engineering department recorded the water level of Sukhna as 1,160.30 feet. On Sunday, it was recorded at 1,158 feet. The present water level is sufficient in the lake. Now we don’t think the lake will dry up.” Sukhna’s water had reached the same level — 1,160.30 feet — three years ago as well, the official said. In 2016, the highest water level of the lake was 1,157 feet.