The Petition Committee of the Delhi Assembly, led by MLA Saurabh Bhardwaj, Saturday carried out a joint inspection of drains along with officers of the municipal corporations and the Public Works Department (PWD), in a bid to end the “blame game”. While PWD officials welcomed the move, they maintained that the bigger issue was to “solve the systemic problems” which take place every year.
The committee carried out inspections in areas under the south MCD. “Every monsoon, MCD and PWD blame each other. Today, we visited areas of south MCD. Monday is for east MCD; north MCD will be on Tuesday,” Bhardwaj said. A government spokesperson said the move was a part of the Delhi government’s ongoing effort to “reduce the blame game” that has “paralysed” cleaning of drains, and was “one of the biggest reasons for drains not being cleaned before monsoon”.
While welcoming the “scrutiny”, PWD secretary Ashwani Kumar said, “There are systemic problems, ranging from unplanned development to insufficient solid waste management, which need to be looked into.” Another PWD official maintained that “such public inspections” were ultimately “nothing more than photo ops”. “This is akin to someone saying that Delhi has a problem of high traffic and we must go and inspect roads. Only someone who is sleeping will not know this…” As per PWD sources, the problems range from “storm water drains being connected to sewer lines”, “solid waste landing up in drains which are also covered”, “paucity of labour to clean PWD lines, which are by and large sewer lines”, among others.
A PWD source said, “Storm water drains are often linked, because of unplanned growth, to DJB’s sewer lines. So when it rains, rain water meant to go through the storm water drains ends up in the DJB lines. As a result, you will often see manholes exploding like fountains because the DJB lines are designed to have limited capacity.” PWD officers added that the problem of solid waste management needs to be addressed urgently. “Some say this is limited to east Delhi, but that is not the case. Whether south Delhi or east — solid waste is the biggest reason for drains being choked. This is not the ambit of the PWD, but we still do the work. This is a larger problem that the MCDs must handle.”