A MAN died of electrocution in Bathinda on Tuesday as the city reeled under continuous rainfall for over seven hours.
Bathinda received the highest amount of rainfall (178 mm) in a single day in the last 20 years, according to data released by Punjab Agricultural University’s (PAU) agrometeorlogy department. Roads were submerged under 4-5 feet of water and there was no power since late Monday night. The relentless downpour damaged the roof of a cattle pound in Bhagta Bhai Ka area, leading to the deaths of 37 cows. Access to many areas was cut off after a breach occurred in the sullage carrier (which carries the wastewater of the city), leading to drainage issues. Most private schools announced a holiday and colleges reported low attendance.
Vijay Kumar, a resident of Kamla Nehru Colony, died of electrocution while closing down his shop Tuesday evening. Though there was no power, sources said he may have been using an inverter.
Finance Minister Manpreet Badal announced that he had released Rs 10 lakh to the Bathinda deputy commissioner (DC) for Langar, water-proof sheets and other relief as water had entered the homes of most people.
The DC declared a holiday in all city schools on Wednesday.
Residences of the IG, SSP and DC were rendered inaccessible due to waterlogging. In Bhagta Bhai Ka area, 37 cows died while another 15 were injured in a cattle pound managed by a religious preacher.
Waterlogging was reported from outside DC complex, judicial complex, Power Colony Road, Sirki Bazar, Bhatti road, Paras Ram Nagar, Mall Road, Amrik Road, Ajit Road and Civil Lines.
On Bus Stand Road, people said they saw employees of the IG’s office swimming in water up to the neck. In low-lying colonies, residents struggled to keep their belongings on higher ground. Most markets remained closed.
It rained heavily in Muktsar, Mansa and Ferozepur as well.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Rishipal Singh Sidhu, commissioner, Municipal Corporation Bathinda, said, “Sewer disposal is being managed by the sewerage board.
The corporation is not maintaining it as we have no operation and maintenance cell because it is the prerogative of the sewerage board. However, the sewerage treatment plant (STP) in the city has a capacity of 52 million litres water per day (MLD) while today’s rainfall increased the flow to more than 120 MLD. Hence the system was not prepared for the same.”
Ashwini Kumar Executive, engineer, sewerage board, and Balwant Rai Nath, Mayor, Bathinda MC, could not be reached for comment. However, sources said that a project to enhance the capacity of the STP had been awarded to a private company by the SAD-BJP government in October 2015 and even they have contract of maintenance of sewerage and water pipes for 10 years.
“Both contracts were awarded by SAD-BJP government to Trevani company, the MC house is being run by SAD-BJP and today when it rained heavily, the sullage drain (point from where rain water and sullage is carried till the STP) breached as it was hardly cleaned. We got it cleaned ourselves and the private company’s staff was nowhere,” said Jaijeet Singh Johal, vice-president of PPCC. “It has been done on the directions of FM Manpreet Singh Badal who is MLA of the area,” he added.
V P Shivangi, DGM, Trevani, told this newspaper, “We were awarded a contract worth Rs 210 crore in October 2015, which included enhancing capacity of STP by another 4.5 MLD and also for handling operation and maintenance for 10 years. However, all clearances of STP were done in October 2018. Hence we will be able to complete the STP project in October provided we are given a go-ahead to lay another 9-km sewer pipeline to reach the discharge point. There is a total length of 13.5 km from STP to drainage point, but we have laid only 4.5 km as farmers are not allowing us to lay pipeline from the rest of the area. Work is at standstill since November last year.”
According to Bathinda MP Harsimrat Badal, Rs 48 crore had been sanctioned to Bathinda MC under the AMRUT scheme for improving infrastructure.
A total of 70 mm rainfall is predicted for Wednesday.