Ahead of the monsoon season, the Commissioner of the North Delhi Municipal Corporation P. K. Gupta had to face flak over “slow” pace of desilting of drains as the preparedness of the corporation to deal with the rainy season was debated in the House on Monday.

Councillors from both the Opposition and the ruling parties argued that given the “enormous amount of work still left to be done” finishing the desilting work on time remained a big challenge for the civic body.

The Commissioner, however, expressed confidence that the work would be completed on the due date of May 31. “We have managed to remove 5,000 MT silt till now out of total 13,000 MT. I am confident that in the coming 15-20 days, we will reach our target,” Mr. Gupta said.

During a detailed discussion on the issue, the leader of the House and BJP councillor Mahendra Nagpal said the pace of work was extremely slow. “Around 13,000 MT of silt is yet to be removed. Given the slow speed of work and with very few days left the corporation won’t be able to meet the deadline.”

He also highlighted the absence of machines to do the job. “We have just one super-sucker machine being shared for 15 days each by the North and South Corporations. There are only five suction machines. There is simply not enough time to complete the work before the rain,” he added.

He also highlighted that the proposal to buy more machines, which would have facilitated completion of work on time, remains pending. The civic body officials however said, “The proposal to buy a super-sucker machine worth Rs.12.64 crore and six suction machines worth Rs.3.50 crore is going full speed and soon the corporation will have them”.

Opposition leader Mukesh Goel criticised the officials and highlighted the “insufficient” number of sanitation workers employed to complete the desilting work.

“I am extremely concerned to see that for 104 wards, there are just 609 beldaars, which comes to just 4-5 workers for every ward. How are they expected to clean several kilometres worth of drains full of silt and garbage,” he asked.

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