New Delhi, July 6 (IANS) When the eagerly awaited monsoon showers, bringing respite from the sweltering summer heat, finally arrive in Delhi, the city will once again and as usual witness flooded roads, overflowing sewers, traffic snarls as the civic agencies seem to be lagging behind schedule in de-silting and sanitation work.
"With pre-monsoon showers already arriving in Delhi and the monsoon rains about to reach the capital anytime, only 40 percent of de-silting work has been completed so far," said Mukesh Goel, Leader of Opposition in the newly-formed North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC).
"The work is lagging behind because of the labour shortage and lack of machinery. Like every monsoon, Delhiites should be geared to walk in knee-deep dirty water this monsoon too," he said.
The responsibility for maintaining major roads lies with the state Public Works Department (PWD), and the North, East and South municipal corporations of Delhi comparatively have few streets and drains to maintain. Yet the civic agencies are behind schedule in cleaning up the storm-water drains.
The three civic bodies missed the June 15 and June 30 deadlines set by Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit to de-silt the storm water drains to avoid water-logging, floods and damaged roads, and are yet to complete the de-silting of storm-water drains in their areas.
The South corporation has 1,464 drains to clean, while the North has 1,638 and the East corporation over 1,000 drains.
In a recent pre-monsoon survey, the corporations found that the city has 88 vulnerable water stagnation points. Fifty-two of these are located in the North.
According to the North corporation, a major part of de-silting of drains was to be done by the PWD and Irrigation and Flood Control Department.
"Even as the light pre-monsoon showers Friday brought a relief to Delhiites, we are not yet prepared for the actual monsoon rains. Blocked drains, flooded roads and road collapses can be encountered by the residents, as the PWD and Flood Control Department have not properly de-silted the big drains, falling under their jurisdiction," Mahender Nagpal, Leader of the House, North MCD, said.
During an inspection Wednesday, the areas under the jurisdiction of the PWD and Flood Control Department, were found to have uncleaned drains, and the silt not removed. Due to this, drains will back-flow, he added.
Meanwhile, the Public Works Department (PWD) claims to have cleaned 90 percent of the storm-water drains.
"We were handling only 483 km of roads in Delhi, but this year we have got an additional 645 km from the trifurcated MCD, as they trusted our abilities. Since May, we carrying the de-silting process. We have almost completed it," Deepak Panwar, PWD spokesperson, told IANS.
Every monsoon season, the residents of the city face a harrowing time, with stagnated water and heaps of waste.
Criticised for the lack of preparation last year, the Delhi Traffic Police this year identified over 450 sites that could bring traffic snarls during monsoon.
"We have taken adequate steps from our side for the approaching monsoon, we had written to all the concerned civic agencies to make water pumps available in the vulnerable areas identified by us." Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Satyendra Garg told IANS.
The traffic police have also arranged six disaster management vehicles to remove uprooted trees from roads.
"The vehicles will be parked at strategic locations. Adding to this, we have about 50 cranes which will be available to tow away cars that break down on flooded roads, which usually creates traffic block," Garg said.
The agency that maintains the traffic signals was asked to conduct thorough checks, especially of the underground cables, to ensure that the lights function properly during rains.
The capital has about 760 traffic signals, which often stop working in heavy rains.
"We have deployed over 500 policemen on duty to control traffic snarls and deployed many at intersections and roads to guide the traffic," he said.
V.P.S Tomer, chief engineer of Delhi's irrigation and flood control department, said: "We started the flood control measures from June onwards. Twenty-four control rooms and check posts have also been established."
Monsoon generally reaches Delhi by June 29 every year. It has been delayed by a week this year.
(Prathiba Raju can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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