Explained: Encroachment and poor urban planning exacerbate waterlogging problems

Assurances from Delhi’s road agencies – PWD, MCD and NDMC – that they were ready for the rains and that drains had been desanded on schedule rang hollow on Thursday as several parts of central, southern and southern East Delhi were flooded after heavy rains.

Over the years, Delhi’s drainage system has become plagued by encroachment and poor planning. Most of the capital’s storm drains are those that have been dug by the natural flow of water over hundreds of years. With unplanned development, many of them have been encroached, covered and obstructed. This meant that the water no longer had an outlet. To add to the problems, several sewage systems have been mixed with storm sewers and when it rains the system is overwhelmed.

Concretization also has a role to play, with very little free space remaining where water can be absorbed into the earth.

The Delhi government has planned to put in place a drainage master plan which will work on redesigning roads, eliminating major storm drains, disconnecting sewer lines from storm sewers, among other issues, to rid Delhi yearly difficulties.

PWD had launched calls for tenders to appoint consultants responsible for providing solutions to the problems encountered in the evacuation of water. This was supposed to happen in March, but only two bidders showed up and both were rejected by the assessor.

A new call for tenders was then launched in May. The consultant must provide actionable and feasible solutions, as well as a roadmap for engineering solutions.

Despite significant waterlogging, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said out of seven key points facing persistent problems, six have not been flooded this year. “These 6 locations are opposite ITO-WHO Building, Minto Bridge, Zakhira Underpass, Jahangirpuri Metro Station Road, Karala Kanjhawala Road, Loni Roundabout…Due to the measures taken last year and with officials from PWD and other agencies keeping a close watch over the past 4-5 months, the problem of waterlogging has been resolved… Even at Prahaladpur bridge, measures Adequate steps have been taken by the government to get rid of waterlogging. However, due to power failure and other problems on the first day of the rainy season, there was a problem in the operation of the pump and there was waterlogging due to which the traffic had to be stopped,” Sisodia said.