The Delhi government is being “cruel to the citizens” due to its “sheer inefficiency and negligence” as debris were not being cleared from a South Delhi drain, the Delhi High Court said on Wednesday. Chastising the Public Works Department (PWD) of the Delhi government for not having an annual plan for clearing the drain and only resorting to “knee-jerk measures” before the onset of monsoon, the high court said the “babus get paid for working throughout the year for the entire city.”
A bench of Justices Manmohan and Yogesh Khanna was dealing with the issue of clearance of debris in the Kushak drain near South Extension-II by June 26 as was promised earlier.
“You have to have a master plan for the drains (storm water and sewage). You cannot have a knee-jerk reaction. You have to have a holistic view. Fact of the matter is that there is no planning.
“So flooding occurs in Delhi every year. Things are in a terrible shape, as for a whole year, nothing is done and debris are dumped. Then you try to clean it up in five days as the monsoon comes,” the bench said.
The accumulated garbage in the drain was “an epidemic waiting to happen” and “you are being cruel to the citizens,” the court said.
In its defence, the PWD said that the storm water drain -Kushak nullah – can withstand the rainfall of the monsoon.
However, its officials were speechless when they were asked to give an undertaking that there would be no flooding this time round.
The PWD and the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) told the court that storm water drains were maintained primarily by the municipal corporations.
To this, the court said another problem faced by the city was the multiplicity of civic agencies with each blaming the other or “passing the buck”, instead of having a “citizen-oriented approach”.
It, thereafter, directed the PWD Secretary, the Delhi Jal Board CEO and the Commissioner of South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) to inspect the site and ensure there is free flow of water in the Kushak nullah which flows into the Yamuna.
Referring to photographs showing the “dismal state of affairs” of the discharge of garbage and sewage into the storm water drain, the bench said it happens because the government regularises colonies but does not provide them services subsequently.
“The political leadership has to understand that their credibility would be affected. You regulate, but you do not provide service. You have to provide service,” the court said.
It also said that PWD was using rudimentary technology to clear the drain when advanced technology was available. “Which century are your officials living in,” the court asked.
It further observed that the PWD was “spending money to create debris and then spending money to clear it. … This is nothing but sheer inefficiency and negligence,” adding that the PWD officials appear to be unaware of the magnitude of the problem.
The court had earlier warned the PWD officials that they would be sent jail for lack of results.
Today, it directed the PWD to remove the debris and garbage from the storm water drain and deposit it in a landfill or a designated site.
It asked the top officials of PWD, DJB and SDMC to file an action taken report and status report before the next date of hearing on July 12.
The court was hearing a PIL initiated by it in 2012 regarding the water-logging and flooding in the South Extension-II. It has been from time to time issuing directions to the authorities to prevent water-logging in the area, but with no results.