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THE DRAINAGE system in Punjab-administered Mohali collapsed under the onslaught of downpour that lashed Tricity on Monday morning. All roads, including the showpiece six-lane airport road, were flooded throwing life out of gear for at least six hours on the first day of the week. Residential areas and parks turned into lakes. In some places, there was two and a half feet of water. Many residents watched helplessly as water entered their homes in almost all phases of Mohali, which was the worst hit in the Tricity.
Traffic came to a standstill on all major roads in the city. Uprooted trees and irregular power supply added to the woes of the residents, who blamed the Municipal Corporation for not taking enough precautions before the rainy season. According to the traffic police, around 500 vehicles developed snags after water entered their engines. Several cars, especially low-slung luxury cars, had stalled on the airport road. One car was floating near the Radha Swami light point.
Occupants of many vehicles had abandoned them on the roads in different areas of the city, adding to the jam. The traffic police struggled to arrange recovery vans and failed to clear the roads where people left their vehicles. Some people called the mechanics but they proved too few for the scale of the crisis that was unfolding on the roads.
The roads leading towards District Administrative Complex and the District Courts Complex witnessed huge traffic tailbacks in the morning. Order could be restored in the city only around 2 pm, when the water finally drained. Water entered many houses in Phase 1, Phase 3B2, Phase 5, Phase 4, Phase 2, Mohali village, Kumbra village, Phase 8, Phase 9, Phase 11 and sectors 68, 69, 70 and 71. The low-lying areas in Phase 1, Phase 2 and Phase 4 were among the worst hit areas as the water logged in the parks and roads due to poor drainage system. Two trees were uprooted near Forest Complex in Sector 68, blocking the traffic. Hoping to clear the vehicles, the police made several diversions but it still did not help.
The commuters started internal routes which further worsened the situation. In the midst of all this, a visit by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh to a private hospital in the city to meet his relative added to the difficulty, as police personnel had to be deputed for his security for traffic regulation on the route. It was not clear if he noticed the chaos on the roads. Ward number 17 councillor Kuljeet Singh Bedi said that he had to call the fire brigade to pump out water from some areas where it entered the houses in Phase 3B2. He added that he was witnessing such scenes for the first time after the floods of 1990.
Ward number 10 councillor Kuldeep Kaur Kang blamed the MC officials for not answering their phones even as water was entering many houses in Phase 5 which was among the worst hit areas on Monday. Ward number 9 councillor Arun Sharma said that there was around three feet water which entered the parks in his ward. He added that he had to call the fire brigade for sucking out the water from the internal roads.
Ashok Jha, ward number 8 councillor, said that parks were flooded in his area. He added that although the drainage system was repaired last month, the high volume of water made it impossible for the drainage pipes to discharge the water quickly enough. “I called Municipal Commissioner Rajesh Dhiman many times, but he did not take my calls. The other officers also ignored calls. The MC staff reached Phase 5 when the water had already entered the houses,” she alleged.
The residents of the area also held a protest against the MC and alleged that no official came to listen to their problems. Satnam Singh, a Phase 5 resident, said that the rain started around 7.30 am and when he came out of his house around 8.30 am to take his car for dropping his son to school, he saw that his car was submerged in water. “Most of the residents in my locality used to park the car in a nearby park. When I saw the water, I could not enter the park. My car’s upper part was visible,” Satnam added.
Guri Sharma, a teacher at a private school in Sector 69, said that she had to leave her car on the road near PCL light point as it developed a technical snag after water entered its engine. Vineet Kumar, a Mataur resident, said that he had never seen such waterlogging in their area in the last 10 years. He added that water was flowing around 4 feet above the roads and it stopped the traffic flow.
“Mataur is a low-lying area and water flows through the area due to which water flooded the entire sector and entered many houses,” he said. Shikha Sharma, a Phase 2 resident, said that she fell from her Activa scooter and suffered injuries as she entered the water on the main road. Shikha could not control her two-wheeler.
An ambulance of Sirhind-based private hospital was stuck in the traffic on the airport road near Radha Swami lightpoint. A PCR team helped the ambulance get out of the traffic jam. Mayor Kulwant Singh and Municipal Commissioner Rajesh Dhiman visited many areas which were flooded due to rain. Speaking to Chandigarh Newsline, the commissioner said that the drainage system did not fail but the water accumulated due to heavy rain. He added that the water cleared within two hours after the rain which means that the drainage system was working properly.
Senior Superintendent of Police Kuldeep Singh Chahal said that the rain came during the peak hours when the children go to schools and people go to their offices and due to rainwater, some vehicles stuck in the rain due to which other people had to face the problem due to traffic jams.