As Delhi received the highest rainfall of this season so far, many parts of the city were left to reckon with knee- to waist-deep water, with traffic coming to a standstill and the Metro’s Magenta line temporarily halting. The downpour also punctured claims by the Delhi government, the three MCDs and the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) that desilting work — meant to unclog drains in the run-up to the monsoon — was progressing as per schedule. Safdarjung, the official Met station for Delhi, recorded 52.4 mm of rain during the day. The Ridge area received the highest rainfall at 118.4 mm, followed by Aya Nagar at 71.4 mm. While this is the heaviest rainfall Delhi has received in July so far, heavier single-day rainfall was received in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
With the Delhi government’s Public Works Department and the civic bodies responsible for upkeep of roads in the capital, issues of waterlogging also come under them. While roads wider than 60 feet fall under PWD, others are managed by MCDs. NDMC is responsible for roads in its areas. All three agencies are responsible for desilting — and each blamed the other for Friday’s mess.Just earlier this week, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had ordered the suspension of two PWD engineers over desilting, stating that work was done only on paper and there was no action on the ground.
The South, East and North MCDs had maintained that they had finished 90% of desilting work in the city. Waterlogging complaints were received from at least 32 places in north Delhi, such as Mukherjee Nagar, Nehru Vihar and Shastri Nagar. The South civic body control room received complaints from Vasant Kunj, RK Puram, Greater Kailash and Pragati Maidan. A senior South body official claimed most areas where waterlogging was witnessed come under the PWD. “The complaints are from roads which are more than 60 feet,” said the official.
Through the afternoon and into the evening, traffic jams and vehicular breakdowns were reported. At Minto Road, a chronic waterlogging point, a DTC bus broke down, with half the vehicle submerged under water and people having to be escorted out.
AAP MLA from Greater Kailash Saurabh Bhardwaj blamed officials on the ground for not completing the annual desilting exercise. “Petitions Committee of Delhi Assembly had inspected drains across Delhi and found that most of the status reports filed by MCD and PWD in Delhi Assembly and High Court were far from reality. The Assembly had recommended strict action against PWD Secretary Ashwani Kumar,” he tweeted. Action against Kumar was recommended last year.
Officials from all three MCDs blamed the PWD. North MCD Mayor Adesh Gupta said, “Last time when we called the coordination meeting, PWD had admitted that till June 29, they had cleaned only 40% of the drains. Now they will try to give an impression that MCD is at fault when most big nallahs under PWD overflowed.”
An NDMC official said their areas were not affected as much, adding that only Connaught Place witnessed waterlogging.
“We were well-prepared for the monsoon by the beginning of June itself. By then, we completed two cycles of desilting of our drains, belmouths and gully traps. The only possibility for these areas to get flooded is if MCD drains, which NDMC drains flow into, overflow,” he said.