Waterlogging woes: NGO writes to LG over inaction on 10-year old report

New Delhi: As people of Delhi continue to face waterlogging every time the city witnesses a heavy downpour, an NGO has written to Lt Governor Najeeb Jung and the Delhi Chief Secretary over inaction on a decade-old report of a Delhi assembly committee that had looked into complaints concerning the citys drainage system. The NGO, Chetna, whose complaint concerning drainage and sewerage system was looked into by the Committee of Petitions of Delhi assembly in 2006, has said that the state government's Urban Development Department and Delhi Development Authority were "just sitting on the report". Anil Sood, president of Chetna, said they will be forced to take judicial recourse if the issue of waterlogging was not addressed immediately as it damages roads, causes breakdown of vehicles and gives rise to health problems.  The NGO also referred to media headlines after the US Secretary of State John Kerry's motorcade was caught in a traffic jam on way from the airport and later had to wade through gushing rain water on way to a lecture at IIT Delhi. The committee, in its report, had lauded Chetna, saying it had "brought into the picture the huge scam which is inflicted on the public funds year after year".  It also found lapses in the work of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, saying it had given misleading information and completed only about a third of the required de-silting of drains. The MCD has since been trifurcated in North, South and East MCDs, all three having elected mayors from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The Delhi government under Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the municipal corporations under the BJP have been at loggerheads over the issue of waterlogging and overflowing of drains. Anil Sood told IANS that nothing had changed in terms of either technology or competence of departments in dealing with drainage issues. "No action has been taken on the recommendations presented in the report. And there won't be any since all are complicit... they still engage in only superficial de-siliting of drains and use only spades, hoes and sticks to clean them. The MCD is still issuing tenders to private contractors without holding them accountable in clear contradiction of the committee's advice," Sood said.  "The existing drains have been constructed in way that makes them more prone to accumulation of silt due to its flat bottom," he said. "Civic authorities claim to have de-silted the drains that cannot be de-silted. On top of it, there is construction activity in various parts of Delhi," he added. Former mayor of South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) and BJP leader Subhash Arya held the AAP government responsible for the problem of water-logging. "It's because of the Delhi government that waterlogging happened on the main roads. There was no waterlogging in the ‘nigam' (SDMC) streets," he said. He claimed the municipal corporations got "100 per cent de-silting" done of around 70,000 drains this year. Drains in Delhi fall under MCD, Public Works Department (PWD) and Delhi Jal Board (DJB). While the MCD takes care of cleaning the open drains, the covered drains are under Delhi government. On his part, PWD minister Satyendra Jain accused the MCDs of not getting drains cleaned properly. He admitted that the drains do not have the capacity for carrying such huge amounts of water. Ramaneek Verma, a resident of south Delhi's Munirka, who lives close to IIT Delhi, said the drainage situation has been the same for years. "Earlier, it was a tussle between the Congress government in Delhi and MCD under BJP. Now it is AAP and BJP. There is more than a foot deep water on the roads every time there is heavy rain," Verma said.  Sarita, a resident of Vasundhra in east Delhi, said that water accumulation on roads due to rains had left some deep potholes.  "I almost fell down from my scooter as the pothole on the road near my apartment was very deep. The condition of some roads is scary," she said.