DESPITE SEVERAL warnings by the Meteorological Department of Chandigarh declaring an early onset of monsoon this year, the Panchkula civic body has been found lackadaisical yet again as the city struggles with waterlogging in sectors, unruly growth of weeds, tall bushes on sidewalks and empty residential plots along with a severe lack of mosquito-control activities, including fogging.
Despite Mayor Kulbhushan Goyal telling The Indian Express on June 3 that tenders have already been issued for the cleaning of road gullies and work would begin within a week, a quick study of the tenders passed as per the state Municipal Corporation website negates his claim. The residents of individual sectors too report no monsoon-related activity in their areas.
The work for repair of damaged Circular Brick Drain (CBD) for storm water drainage in Sector 2 at a cost of more than Rs 3.40 lakh has, however, begun after it was inaugurated by local MLA and Speaker of Haryana Legislative Assembly Gian Chand Gupta on June 17.
The MC elections which gave Panchkula a mayor after a gap of several years had given the residents some hope of making their grievances heard as well as having better civic amenities this year but to no avail.
“The situation still remains similar to previous years. Nothing has been done to date to clean road gullies and manholes. Yesterday only work has been allotted for Sector 2. But what is this work is a question mark as always. Three years back as well work of cleaning of drainage system of more than Rs 2.5 crore was given. But no result was seen on the ground anywhere. Not only this, people of many sectors of Panchkula face sewerage overflow during heavy rain. Nothing has been done in this regard as well. Potholes have not been repaired, water stagnates on main roads, including the 7/18 roundabout which is the entry into Panchkula, but no one has cared to rectify it. If this is the situation at the very entry, one may well imagine what it may be like in the sectors that lie in the interior parts of the city,” says Rakesh Aggarwal, a resident of Sector 12.
Even the newly constructed roundabouts and bicycle-sharing systems have not been spared as expensive bushes and carpet grass planted on them die, weeds grow and an unkempt city gives itself away. Roundabouts, including Geeta Chowk and Charkha Chowk, marked as one of the prime roundabouts whose reconstruction had caused a heavy blow to MC’s pocket and even stirred a controversy involving a scam to the tune of more than Rs 1 crore now fall under the same description.
Even though officials in the Municipal Corporation claim regular pruning and trimming of trees, bushes and shrubs at every place is being ensured, the results of the same cannot be seen on the ground.
Several sectors, including sectors 8, 9, 10 and 19, have been the prime problem areas of the city reporting increasing waterlogging with each passing year. One of the posh sectors of the city, Sector 8, at least for the past two years has been facing the issue of waterlogging.
After every spell of rain, the corner area, near house number 532 has been getting inundated. The problem initially had remained specific to this house, it slowly spread to the neighbouring houses and continues to grow. So much so, the residents have been forced to make special arrangements in their homes as they sleep with wipers beside their bed to sweep off the water that comes in when it rains at night. Several have had to place logs under the furniture to prevent it from getting spoiled and put up one-foot barriers at the entry of their house to prevent the water from entering.
“Rainy season creates havoc in almost all sectors of Panchkula. Some others are worst affected where water enters the residences and damages furniture. Municipal Corporation usually cleans the road gullies and dumps the garbage on roadside which slushes down the road gullies with gushing rainwater, making the exercise futile. For the last two years, this exercise too has been kept in abeyance by MC, adding to the misery of the residents’ woes. Its a pity that the issue is not being addressed professionally. Unskilled labourers are deployed hither and thither for just an eyewash. There is a need for total revamping of system as main drainage line made of brick arch has broken down at places to obstruct the proper flow of rainwater,” says R P Malhotra, member of Sector 8 RWA who has been raising the issue for the past several years but to no avail. “But who listens to us?”
Sector 19 is the worst hit as every time it rains, normal life in Sector 19 of Panchkula comes to a standstill with water filling up the roads and entering homes of people living on the ground floors.
The situation has only aggravated with the construction of a connecting flyover lying pending for several months. Kamlesh, president of Sector 19 RWA, grouses that year after year, the MC makes claim of solving the issue by next monsoon but nothing happens.
“Claims are only made when monsoons are on. No work is done once the season ends. While water earlier used to enter one side of the sector at the housing board, this under-constructed bridge will now let water into our sector from the second side as well. The whole sector will be flooded. Even a day’s rain last week had filled up water up to 6 feet under that bridge which is bound to overflow as monsoon intensifies.”
Meanwhile, the residents of trans-Ghaggar sectors which so far faced only minor issues of waterlogging now look at a grave issue.
“Due to reconstruction of roads over the old ones, the level of roads has gone up and the level of societies and houses has become so low that rainwater is now entering the societies. Our association had already discussed this with the former commissioner who had asked the Superintendent Engineer to restore the old level and make an estimate of the roads, but till now this problem has not been resolved,” says B B Sharma, member of Sector 20 RWA.
Even though both 2019 Assembly as well as 2020 mayoral elections have been fought and won on the issues concerning civic affairs, the residents are yet to get the promised respite they voted for.