As 36.8 mm rainfall in a single day brought Ludhiana to its knees, the municipal corporation realised the importance of rainwater harvesting and storm water drains as manholes had to be opened up to clear waterlogged roads.
On Thursday, the city recorded its heaviest spell of rainfall this season. Until now, Ludhiana had not received more 27 mm in a day this monsoon season.
Municipal Commissioner Kanwalpreet Kaur told The Indian Express, “Barring a few low-lying areas, the entire city was cleared of waterlogging by 2 pm. We had no choice but to drain the water into sewer manholes as there is no rainwater harvesting system in the city. However, we are going to make rainwater harvesting compulsory for residents because if the rainwater percolates into the ground, water stagnating on roads would go down by 50 per cent. New buildings are depositing fees, but are not doing the basic construction to get water recharged.”
Ludhiana has three sewage treatment plants (STP) which have a capacity of 477 million litres water per day (MLD). However, with the growing size of the city, the flow is not less than 750 MLD on routine days. On, rainy days, it’s even more.
Mayor Balkar Singh told The Indian Express, “We agree that the STPs’ capacity is below what is needed and we have storm sewers in less than 10 per cent of the area. Storm sewers help drain out water quickly from roads and the rainwater never gets mixed with sewer water. But in the present system, rainwater is drained out via sewer manholes as we have no other way out.”
“SAD-BJP gave us MC under huge debt and we have to repay loans. Paucity of funds is the reason for delay in storm sewer project implementation in Ludhiana.”
Ludhiana has the biggest municipal corporation of Punjab, with 75 wards.
Cabinet Minister and MLA from Ludhiana West Bharat Bhushan Ashu claimed that his constituency did not experience waterlogging as he had got rainwater harvesting wells installed in some parts of his constituency. However, Shastri Nagar, which falls under his constituency, was waterlogged till late afternoon.
Mamta Ashu, the MLA’s wife and a councillor herself, said, “All rainwater harvesting wells in my area have been constructed with the efforts of respective MC councillors and Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs). No funds were taken from MC Ludhiana for this and it was all done with the active support of area residents.”
MLA Ashu said rainwater harvesting wells solve the dual purpose of recharging depleting groundwater and as well as preventing road inundation. Areas along Buddha nullah, Haibowal, Janakpuri, Shivpuri, Books market, Talaab bazar etc. were waterlogged for 4-5 hours on Thursday.