FOR days now, especially during the withdrawal phase of monsoon, Pune city has witnessed massive traffic jams on several roads. One of the key reasons for traffic going haywire is the flooding of roads caused by overflowing nullahs or water unable to run off into stormwater drains. There are as many as 300 such “critically flooded spots” across Pune city and the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) claims that it is working overtime to set these spots right. “In our survey, we have found that there are 300 spots which get flooded during heavy rain when the storm drains are unable to hold the massive rush of water. These spots were identified as critically flooded spots…,” said PMC superintending engineer Jagdish Khanore.
Of the 300 spots, Khanore said they have already covered 100 spots. “At least 100 spots have been set right. At these spots, we have laid drainage pipeline which could hold large amount of water, especially during heavy downpour. From 600 mm diameter pipeline to 1,600 mm diameter pipelines have been laid,” he said. “The project involves providing connectivity — from nearby roads the water should flow into stormwater drains and to nullahs. It is about draining road water into nullahs…,” he said.
The sewerage project is worth Rs 400 crore and is being implemented in four phases by two private contractors. “In the first phase, work worth Rs 80 crore has been done. In the second phase, work worth Rs 48 crore has been completed,” he said. Arguing that things had improved, Khanore said that last year they laid new pipeline in K K Market area on Satara Road after the flooding that was caused due to overflowing nullahs. “This year, there was no flood because of the improvements carried out last year,” he said.
Civic activists, however, said that the PMC should act decisively rather than making empty promises. Prashant Inamdar, a civic activist, said Puneites have been hearing about this so-called improvement for a long time. “But during each monsoon, the scenario refuses to change. The flooding of roads and massive traffic jams are commonplace during every monsoon even as the civic body keeps making promises,” he said. Stating that Pune might go the Mumbai way in future if things are not improved in all seriousness and purpose, Inamdar said, “In the recent rains, we saw cars virtually floating on roads of Pune. Such scenes are common in Mumbai and are now being seen in Pune too,” he said.
Inamdar said the need of the hour was a holistic and integrated approach. “The master plan should include both stormwater drain work as well road infrastructure work. The roads should be constructed in such a way that water directly drains into stormwater drains or the nearby drainage chamber,” he said. The state of the drainage chambers, said Inamdar, was such that they were cleaned once in a while. “There are too many obstructions for water to flow into the drainage chamber. This is because the chambers seem to be cleaned once in a while, especially ahead of the monsoon,” he said.
Demanding an investigation into the existing sewerage system, Inadmar said, “Before going ahead with laying new drainage pipelines, the PMC should investigate as to why the existing system had failed to work as it had spent crores of rupees on it. It needs to find out road defects, choking causes and maintenance problems. The PMC should find out what exactly went wrong with the current system. It will help ensure that proper system is put in place, which will stem future recurrences,” he said.