Delhi

Activists fume over ‘mindless digging’ in Gurugram to combat flooding

Environmentalist Saurav Bandhan said government agencies must consult experts before taking up any work in the ecologically fragile area.  

It is often remarked that history repeats itself.

In Gurugram, it repeats itself every monsoon in the form of waterlogged roads.

A heavy spell of rain — around 160 mm in a span of less than 36 hours on July 18-19 — left the city inundated.

Water gushed into houses and roads virtually turned into rivers. Underpasses on the national highway running through the city were also flooded, and a body was retrieved from one underpass.

All major roads and intersections in the city were waterlogged. Sheetla Mata Mandir Road, a perennial waterlogging point, was the worst affected.

Videos of devotees, including women and children, wading through waist-high water went viral on social media.

But despite the heavy rain for more than a day, the situation on Raghvendra Road, also known as Golf Course Road, was remarkably better than the previous year with none of the underpasses on the road being inundated and the rainwater getting drained just a few hours after the downpour.

In 2020, three underpasses on Raghvendra Road, a signal-free stretch through DLF area from Shankar Chowk to AIT Chowk, were inundated and had to be shut for traffic.

The longest underpass, near DLF Phase-I Rapid Metro station, was filled to the top.

“After the rains last year, a committee comprising then Municipal Corporation Gurugram Commissioner Vinay Pratap Singh, Additional Commissioner Jaspreet Kaur and the local councillors in Zone-III, deliberated on the matter and decided that the four creeks flowing through the area must be cleaned and widened, and their segments reconnected to avoid flooding,” said Tushar Yadav, Executive Engineer, MCG Division-8, Zone-III.

One of the creeks along Golf Course Road.

One of the creeks along Golf Course Road.  

 

Waste dumped in creeks

Mr. Tushar said a huge quantity of waste, mostly construction and demolition waste, was cleared from the creeks, which were then also widened. The pipes from under the roads connecting them to the drain along the Chakkarpur-Wazirabad Bandh were also de-silted.

“Despite the heaviest rain of the season on July 19 and two more spells later, the situation on Golf Course Road has been far better compared to the previous year. We now plan to plant vegetation along the creeks,” said Mr. Yadav. He, however, conceded that the work in the creeks was done without the supervision of an environmental expert and not based on any report or study.

Subhash Yadav, Head, Urban Environment Division, Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority, said the agency constructed chutes on the roads along the creeks, raised the height of the speed-breakers, dug up contour trenches and created water bodies in 600-hectares area of Aravalis to successfully collect around 11,46,000 kilolitres of water on July 19.

Some of the waste that was removed from the creeks.

Some of the waste that was removed from the creeks.  

 

Drainage system

“The water collected was estimated to be equal to the city’s water supply for 3-4 days. Since the water drainage system of the city is not made to handle rainfall of this scale in a single day, there was waterlogging. The situation could have been far worse had the water collected in the Aravalis also flowed down into the city’s drainage system,” he said.

Mr. Subhash claimed the experts had suggested construction of concrete check dams inside the creeks, but he used his expertise to decide that earthen check dams were enough to hold the run-off, keeping in view the amount of rainfall the city received.

Several environmentalists, however, are fuming at what they call the “unscientific”, “short-term” and “quick-fix” approach of the government agencies to solve ecological issues. The environmentalists pointed out that the water bodies dug up in the creeks had left several trees uprooted and roots of many other exposed and caused the soil around them to erode, causing more harm than good.

“It seems that no calculations were done for the dimensions of the pit before digging it. After rains are over, these huge pits can be great dumping areas for construction and demolition waste and other wastes,” said Hemani Pundir Rawat, a volunteer for Clean Air, in a tweet about the pit dug in Creek-1 along Sunset Boulevard Road.

Unwanted construction

A few others have also objected to the construction of the “unwanted” cement chutes despite hume pipes along the road, and the “mindless” digging of the forest to create contour trenches and the setting up of avoidable check dams.

Saurav Bandhan, an environmentalist, said the government agencies must take “appropriate scientific measures” to collect and harvest the rainwater flowing down the creeks, ridges, natural drains of the Aravalis without displacing any trees and soil.

“Widening of natural drains could be done but with proper care, and appropriate soil erosion prevention measures. Depending on the average annual rainfall, contour bunds or graded bunds could be constructed of proper structural design and construction material. Boulders, stones and rubble should be used. No cemented structures should be permitted in the Aravalis. The rainwater runoff on the roads should be channelised into the natural drains, depressions, creeks etc. with the help of hume pipes fitted with trash screens,” said Mr. Bandhan.

He added that loose sandy soil of the Aravalis, if compacted properly with vegetation to prevent erosion, could be used for constructing the bunds or barriers but only with proper understanding of the slope, flow rate, volume of rainwater, and other factors.

Hydro-geological experts, geologists, structural engineers, etc. must be consulted and such projects should be implemented under their supervision, he added.

“The Aravali mountain range is ecologically fragile. Destroying the Aravalis will destroy the ecosystem of Gurgaon,” warned Mr. Bandhan.


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Printable version | Sep 20, 2021 5:57:14 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/activists-fume-over-mindless-digging-to-combat-flooding/article35672861.ece

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