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While the Pune Municipal Corporation came under fire from all quarters for what many described as pathetic monsoon preparedness...

Written by Nisha Nambiar | Pune |
June 16, 2010 12:35:30 am

The five-part Rain Check series carried by Pune Newsline a fortnight ago had sought to find out if the city is ready for monsoon. Monday’s rain gave an indication. Roads clogged,vehicles broke down,homes got flooded and commuters went through a nightmare,exposing the adminstration’s shoddy planning yet again

PMC owns up,says heavy rain caught it unawares
The city needs 1,028 kms of drains alongside the roads,says civic chief Zagade
While the Pune Municipal Corporation came under fire from all quarters for what many described as pathetic monsoon preparedness, Municipal Commissioner Mahesh Zagade on Tuesday blamed the nightmare caused by water-logging across the city on the “unexpectedly heavy rainfall”.
“The city received a record rainfall of 99.1 mm in one day on Monday throwing normal life out of gear. The existing drainage system cannot handle such a rainfall as it has been designed to handle a maximum of 73.74 mm of rainfall in a day,” he said,adding that the civic administration could have hardly done anything to avoid such a situation.
“The civic administration will chalk out a comprehensive plan on storm water drains. The city needs 1,028 km of drains alongside city roads and 262 km of nullahs have to be channeled properly,” Zagade said.
“A study conducted in 2007 revealed that around Rs 2,000 crore is required to streamline the natural flow of water in the city. The civic administration has already made substantial allocation for the purpose,” he said.
The union government had sanctioned Rs 35 crore in 2009 to start the nallah channelisation work and the actual work has been started in March 2010,he said. “There was delay in implementing the project due to poor response to the tenders.”
The city has been divided into 23 basins and work has begun on two basins so far,Zagade said,adding there was a need to rethink on the earlier plan based on the capacity to handle rainfall of 73 mm. “We will prepare a new plan to cater to 100 mm rainfall in a day,” he said.
Zagade admitted there was encroachment on the nallahs by slums and buildings. “We should respect the natural course of water flow and all the properties blocking or diverting the flow of nallah water will be identified so that appropriate action can be taken to improve the situation,”he added.
A spot visit of various roads with water logging revealed that there have been design defects at some locations and the concerned contractors have been asked to rectify the problems,Zagade said.
Earlier,Mayor Mohansingh Rajpal blamed the administration for the failure to carry out pre-monsoon work. “The monsoon rainfall has exposed the inefficiency of the civic administration. There has been no new storm water drains from last two years,” he said.
A standing committee meeting was adjourned in protest of the civic administration failure to reduce the woes of citizens. “This is complete negligence on the part of the adminstration and it cannot be accepted as citizens are facing the consequences of that,” said chairman Arvind Shinde.

Reverse flow of nullah floods homes in Ganesh Peth
WOMENFOLK were in tears as they grappled with the surging sewage water,children cried loudly while elders lifted one household item after another looking for safe space to keep them. This was the scene in Menkar Vasti of Ganesh Peth as residents faced a terrible time on Monday after nullah water flooded their homes. As many as 70 families were badly affected.
Till Tuesday morning,the residents spent hours trying to drain out the nullah water which rose to nearly five feet. TV,fridges,clothes,children’s school material,grains and other household items were damaged as the sewage water seeped into them. “Our CD player got washed away,” said Anand Kundur,a youngster. Lata Phalke,a housewife,could not control her tears as she blamed the authorities for turning a blind a eye to their demand.
The residents had been demanding that the direction of the nullah that the Pune Municipal Corporation constructed in Ganesh Peth three years back should be changed. “The residents have been demanding that the nullah direction should be altered. The design of the nullah is faulty. The water should flow with the tide,but it comes in reverse direction. The residents have been facing the problem for three years. They have complained to PMC,but it refuses to move,” alleges Ravi S,an activist.
Anita S and Kiran Kundur,local residents,said along with the stinking sewage water there were germs,insects,lizards and even snakes that surfaced. “The stink was so bad we could not eat a morsel of food. In fact,the entire area is stinking badly,”,they said. The women alleged that politicians of the area were only interested in their votes and did not careabout providing proper civic amenities.
The residents said that if the PMC does not change the direction of the nullah they would agitate by taking their household utensils at the doorstep of the civic headquarters. “First we want to draw the attention of Mayor Mohansingh Rajpal to our plight. If he does not look into our problem,we would have no option but to agitate before the civic headquarters,”) said Kundur.

15 kms from Swargate to Nashik Phata in 5 hours
FROM Satara,it took 76-year-old Tukaram Hirve two hours to reach Swargate,a distance about 120 km. But from Swargate to Nashik Phata,a distance of 15 km,it took him five hours by a state transport bus as traffic crawled on water-logged city roads on Monday.
“In 25 years,I never experienced such a traffic nightmare,” says Hirve,who reached home at 11 pm much to the collective relief of his family members. “In all these years,there must have been a delay in reaching Pune by 10 to 15 minutes,but 5 hours of delay is just too much. It was a nightmare I won’t forget for life.”
Hirve,a farmer from Ichalkaranji had left his home around noon. He reached Satara by a State Transport bus little before 4 pm. “I boarded a State Transport at Satara which started exactly around 4 pm. The bus reached Swargate at 6. From six,the bus started to its crawl towards Vallabhnagar bus stand in Pimpri,” said Hirve,recalling his travelling travails on the city roads.
Hirve says after moving every four-or five metres or less than that,the bus used to come to a grinding halt. “The wait used to go on till there was another movement. This went on for as many as five hours,” says Hirve,“From Swargate to Khadki,there was water every where which prevented onward movement of the buses” Compounding the problem was the fact that some vehicles brokedown either due to water getting into the silencers or technical problem. “There are three lanes formed by vehicles of all type and every other vehicle was looking for an opportunity to move head,” said Hirve.
Passengers in the bus had their patience tested to the limit. “Every passenger in the bus was irritated beyond imagination. It was raining heavily,the water had entered in the bus through the windows. Many of the seats had become wet forcing passengers to stand and travel,”says Hirve.
Since Hirve,a father of four married children,was not carrying a cellphone as he is not used to it,his relatives in Kasarwadi were an anxious lot.

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Swargate society grapples with water-logging
MONDAY night was ‘scary’ for residents of the Poonam Cooperative Society opposite Laxminarayan theatre in Swargate area after water from drainage chambers and nearby Nagzari nallah found its way to the society. This despite repeated complaints to the Sahakarnagar ward office about clearing drainage chambers around the society.
“After heavy rain on Monday,water started flowing outwards from the drainage chambers near the society. To add to it,the compound wall behind our society adjoining the Nagzari nallah developed cracks at five-six places and water started seeping through it. By 9.30 pm,there was ankle-deep water in the society parking. The inter-locking blocks in the parking have been damaged and all the society members were busy cleaning up the place,” said Ketki Dedhia,a resident of the society.
Her husband Ritesh said that the 24-member society had requested the Sahakarnagar ward office to clean the drainage chambers,as recently as on June 5. He said considering the India Meteorological Department’s forecast that monsoon would be on time,the society office bearers had written at least six letters to the Sahakarnagar ward office in anticipation of the water logging over the past month. However,no action was taken.
“ We were told that many societies along the BRTS route are facing this problem due to inadequate storm water drains,” Dedhia said. He added that the ward office staff was once again called on Monday night after the water logging incident,but little efforts were made to de-clog the drains.
Anand Bhandari,who owns a shop in the society,said that the residents were awake late night trying to clean the place with phenyl.
“This is the first time that we are faced so much problem. Although there were incidents of water logging during last monsoon too,it was not this grave,” he said. Bhandari also added that the society had to call private agencies to clean the place.

Drain water in homes,Pimpri-Chinchwad fights age-old problem
MONDAY’S rain completely exposed the monsoon preparedness of the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation. Throughout the town,there was not one road or area which was not water-logged. If traffic was hit badly,residents had a tough time getting rid of the nullah water that had flooded their homes.
PCMC fire brigade officials said they received around 20 calls and all of them were about nullah water entering their homes. “A number of homes in different areas of the town were flooded with nullah water. The water flowed from the choked up nullahs in homes affecting several essential items,” fire officials said. The worst affected areas where Akurdi,Pimpri,Chinchwad,Sangvi,Kharalwadi. The condition at several chowks was equally bad. Whether it was Nashik Phata chowk,Pimpri chowk,Finolex Chowk,Chapekar chowk,Pradhikaran chowk,PMT chowk in Bhosari,Pimple Gurav chowk,the road connecting Pimpri with Kalewadi,the Rahatni road,water logging continued for hours. Bhosari’s problem was severe due to a ongoing overbridge work. In Indrayani Nagar,the main road leading to suburb was completely under water stranding those heading home.
Corporator Maruti Bhapkar said Monday’s water-logged city reflects badly on the PCMC administration. “It is clear that despite the civic chief’s directives,the nullah cleaning operation was not undertaken thoroughly,” he said. Health chief Dr Nagkumar Kunachgi said,who till recently was holding the drainage department charge,said the divisional chiefs are holding the charge now. Municipal Commissioner Asheesh Sharma however put on a brave front. Stating water-logging problem was not due to choked nullahs,but due to excessive rain,he said nullahs had been desilted before the monsoon arrived. He said,“I got only one call from Akurdi area about homes flooded due to nullah water. I checked this morning. It was due to reverse flow of water from the nullah. That has been rectified,” he said. As regards Indrayani Nagar area where the main entrance to suburb was water-looged,Sharma said he would talk to local corporators and initiate corrective measures.

Study had warned of drainage system failure
A STUDY conducted two years ago by technical consultants on the status of storm water drains in the city had clearly pointed out that of the 360 kms of nullahs in the city,at least 15 kms are blocked because of illegal constructions and other factors.
The study which was carried out tby PriMove Infrastructure Development Consultants for the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) had given various suggestions to improve the condition of storm water drains in the city to avoid water logging.
Even as Phase I of the plan has been cleared through JNNURM funds with a seed capital of Rs 200 crore,of which Rs 35 crore has been received the PMC may look at revising the size of all the storm water drains.
Pune city has been divided into 23 basins,the work of five basins have been taken up for the first phase—Baner,Wadgaonsheri,Kharadi,Kondhwa and Wadgaon Budruk.
City engineer Prashant Waghmare said that Monday’s rainfall of 99.1 mm and heavy showers of about 62.5 mm rainfall in half an hour was definitely not a normal event for the city. “The storm water drains have been constructed considering the rainfall of an average of 70 mm. We will discuss the plan of revising the structures,” he said. With Mumbai recording 575 mm of rainfall on a day in 2005,the municipal corporation is planning to reconstruct the storm water drains for increasing the capacity. “We will appoint PriMove as consultants for another study for the revised plans,” he said.
Director of Primove Infrastructure Development Consultants Ajit Oak said that thw rapid urbanisation and intensity of the rain has definitely taken a toll of the storm water drains. “The existing nullahs are readied for 70 mm rainfall. If there is more intensity,we need to have increased capacity,” he said.

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