The sky behaved strangely on Thursday, sending down a heavy 47 mm of rain on monsoon-starved Panchkula in about an hour, but sparing only 2.6 mm for Chandigarh in the same time period. The sudden downpour during the evening rush hour caused waterlogging and long traffic jams with commuters getting stuck for hours at different places in Chandigarh and Panchkula, but also brought some welcome relief from the humid weather.
Panchkula, which was billed just a few days ago as 60 per monsoon deficient, got nearly 40 per cent of its total rainfall in all of July in just about 60 minutes. Weather officials said they were examining to see if it was a record.
“A cloud that from Solan and Nahan side that came towards Panchkula got vertical growth. It lifted moisture on the way due to which vertical growth occurred resulting in 47 mm rain in a short span. In dry and subdued conditions such weather occurs. We are checking the duration in which this rainfall occurred on the radar and will be able to confirm whether it is a record,” said Meteorological Department Director Surinder Paul.
The Meteorological Department has predicted cloudy skies for Friday as well and possibility of rain. The maximum humidity recorded Thursday was 87 percent. The maximum temperature was 37 degrees and the minimum 27 degrees, four degrees above normal.
Traffic jams were experienced along Madhya Marg, especially near Sector 26, Sector 29-31 stretch, and roads leading to Panchkula. In Panchkula, the situation was worst along the one kilometre stretch from the Mansa Devi Complex T-point to the Sector 6-7 roundabout. Dozens of cars broke down on the waterlogged roads which added to the chaos. People could be seen wading in the water and pushing their cars. For as long as two hours, people were stuck at this stretch, but the Panchkula police were nowhere to be seen.
Roads were overflowing with water as the stormwater drainage system could not manage the water, despite the civic body’s tall claims. In Panchkula, waterlogging was witnessed at Sector 8, 9,10, 11, 18,19, Fatehpur village and Mansa Devi Complex. However, Mohali remained free of traffic jams.
“I don’t understand why there is no police official to man the traffic? I have to rush to see my daughter who is unwell,” said Aarushi Khullar, a resident of Sector 2, Panchkula.
Panchkula Mayor Upinder Kaur Ahluwala said that in May itself, she had written a letter to all the departments concerned to clear the gullies but to no avail.
“They don’t want to work. I had written to them in May itself but they did not do anything. They don’t have proper pipelines and the residents suffer as a result. I will write a letter to the higher authorities on Monday now,” said Ahluwalia.
N P Sharma, Chief Engineer, Municipal Corporation, Chandigarh, said that the size of the stormwater drainage pipes were around half-inch. “In case of heavy rainfall, it takes very little time for the water to drain out,” he said.
There were power outage across the city after the rainfall, but in Sector 7 Panchkula, the residents had to go without power for hours after a tree fell on electricity wires and brought down several poles. The residence of former Haryana Chief Minister Bhajan Lal is in the area. The residents rued that it highlighted the poor management in Panchkula.
One of the residents, Rajnish, said, “The electricity poles in the entire row coming crashing down after a tree hit the wires. It could have caused a tragedy and people could have been hurt. No senior official was present at the site. The tree is being chopped off by labourers using axes. The municipal corporation should have mechanical saws which would make the work faster.”