THE mammoth traffic jam, following heavy rain, that held up commuters on National Highway 8 in Gurgaon for most of Thursday night has triggered a blame game between the Haryana and Delhi governments, with both accusing each other of poor management of drains.
Haryana Chief Minister M L Khattar took to Twitter to hit out at Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, writing that he was “frustrated by non-cooperation”. Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia responded on the same platform: “Merely renaming Gurgaon as Gurugram does not mean development. You need plans and execution for development. Jumlon se Jam Nahin Khulega.”
Officials from both sides then presented their versions, sending out teams to take videos and photographs to back their points.
Haryana blamed the unprecedented water-logging on the “choked” Najafgarh drain in Delhi into which water from the Badshahpur drain in Gurgaon flows. But Delhi officials pointed to temporary, ill-equipped “kuchha” diversions created in Gurgaon to facilitate the construction of “pucca” drains that led to the crisis.
Haryana officials also accused the Delhi government of shutting two of the 11 gates of the Kakrola barrage, curbing the flow of excess water, but their Delhi counterparts argued that the load could easily be managed through the nine gates that were open.
“We found that water was stagnated. For many decades, water from the Badshahpur drain has been falling into the Najafgarh drain. But because the Najafgarh drain was choked and not de-silted, the Badshahpur drain started overflowing,” said a senior official from the Gurgaon administration, who did not wish to be named.
The official said that information received from the flood control room was that although water was not at a dangerous level, the banks were still flooded, indicating that the bed was filled with silt. “We even dropped pieces of paper to check but the drain was so clogged that the papers did not move,” the official said.
“As for the Kakrola barrage, of the 11 gates that should be open, only two were opened in June, five early in July and later nine. So the barrage was under-performing by 20 per cent,” said the official.
Gurgaon municipal commissioner T L Satyaprakash said that geographic location also played a role in the crisis. “Gurgaon is at a natural disadvantage compared to its neighbouring areas. It is low-lying while Chattarpur and Mehrauli in Delhi are on a higher slope. So where do we feed the excess water that flows down from Delhi?”
However, another senior official in Gurgaon confessed that this situation may not have arisen had the city administration been better prepared.
Delhi’s officials, meanwhile, blamed the chaos on the construction at HUDA’s Dwarka Expressway colony. “Whoever is saying that the Najafgarh drain is clogged is making false statements. We took photographs and conducted an inspection today. The Badshahpur drain, too, is getting cemented and water has been diverted to kuchha drains which is insufficient for a rainfall like this,” said V K Jain, chief engineer, flood department, Delhi.
Delhi officials also claimed that “even if one gate of the Kakrola barrage is open, it will be more than sufficient to take the load of the Badshahpur drain”. They said that the barrage handles water from three drains from Haryana — Badshahpur, Bajghera and Dharampur. Jain believes that the major damage on NH-8 was done by water overflowing from the Bajghera drain.