By Ajit K Jha
New Delhi [India], Aug 20 (ANI): The negligence of the Delhi government was the reason behind waterlogging under Minto Bridge that claimed one life in July, Jai Prakash, the mayor of North Delhi said on Thursday.
"The drains near Minto Road come under the jurisdiction of the Delhi Jal Board and the PWD and weren't cleaned on time before the monsoons arrived," the mayor said.
He added that preparation for monsoon should start two months in advance.
"Monsoon comes every year, and the government has to start the preparations two months prior to that. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal accepted that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government was unable to clean the drains. This is in spite of the fact that during lockdown the government had ample time to undertake the cleaning operations," the mayor said.
Prakash added that the North MCD cleaned 166 kilometers of drains that come under its jurisdiction during the lockdown.
When asked the reason behind the miscommunication between the Delhi government and the other civic bodies, the mayor said that it is the responsibility of the Chief Minister to initiate dialogue as he's the elected leader of the city.
"It's sad that till today, the Chief Minister hasn't called us for any meeting," said Prakash.
Ater Singh, the pump operator responsible for draining rainwater from the road under Minto Bridge said that clogged drains were the reason behind waterlogging under the bridge.
"The drains were jammed, and the pumps were not working on July 19 when there was waterlogging under the bridge. After that, the Delhi Jal Board cleaned the drains and now our pumps are working properly and no incident of waterlogging has been reported since then," said the pump operator.
"I have been working here for the past 12 years. However, the problem in the drainage line is fairly new. A couple of years ago, there used to be no issue of waterlogging in the area," the pump operator added.
ANI also talked to an auto driver Anil Kumar Singh, who said that the July 19 incident has instilled a sort of fear in him about working during the rains.
"I am very scared of coming here (Minto Bridge). I took an off till it was raining, and only started working after the rain stopped," he said.
On July 19, a man identified as Kundan Singh, (60), allegedly drowned and died following heavy rainfall at the Minto Bridge area.
A bus also got stuck on the road under Minto Bridge, following which fire department personnel arrived at the site to rescue people on-board. Singh's body was found floating in front of the bus.
"After the incident at Minto Road that claimed one life, all the departments have established good coordination among themselves and solved the problem of clogged drains. Now the result of that is in front of everyone, where despite heavy rains in the National Capital, there was no waterlogging on Minto Road. We'll try to implement the same model in every place in Delhi where there is a problem of waterlogging so that it can be solved," AAP leader Saurabh Bhardwaj said.
All departments and agencies have agreed together to resolve the waterlogging issues in the national capital during a meeting of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Urban Development Affairs on August 18.
In the meeting chaired by Lok Sabha MP Jagdambika Pal, Delhi Chief Secretary Vijay Dev gave a presentation for short- and long-term plans to deal with the menace.
The Committee members expressed discontentment over the blame game among departments over the issue. In this regard, a committee will be constituted under the chairmanship of Delhi Chief Secretary and will have representatives of all concerned departments.
The new committee will work towards establishing coordination among all the departments so that Delhi can get rid of the waterlogging problem.
After all the initiatives, the committee will submit its report to the Parliamentary committee.
Officers of the three municipal corporations, Delhi Jal Board, officers of NDMC, and officers of PWD will also be present in this committee. (ANI)
By Ajit K Jha