Delhi Govt.’s technical panel ‘rejects’ drainage master plan

Committee raises multiple issues, including discrepancies in data given to IIT-D

Published - October 27, 2021 01:42 am IST - New Delhi

A technical expert committee (TEC) has told the Delhi Government not to accept the Drainage Master Plan, which was commissioned 10 years ago by the Government, according to documents seen by The Hindu .

Despite this, on August 24, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal reviewed the progress of the master plan and said that “Delhi will soon get freedom from waterlogging” as work was being “expedited on Delhi’s Drainage Master Plan”.

“The TEC feels that the final report submitted by the consultant (IIT Delhi) is not worth considerable for recommendation and the mentioned report may not be accepted. The State Govt. or Nodal Department may take a call in this matter accordingly [sic],” a Central Water Commission (CWC) document dated August 9 read.

The TEC raised multiple problems, including “discrepancies in data” used for the master plan, which was given to IIT Delhi by the Government departments.

The master plan prepared by IIT-D was seen as a solution to waterlogging issues, which the Capital faces every year, as the city’s current drainage master plan was made in 1976.

Has not made public

The Delhi Government has not yet made public the TEC telling the Government to not accept the report.

When contacted, a spokesperson said, “The Government has suggested changes and issued directions to resolve issues with the master plan. A committee headed by the PWD is working on it.”

But when asked whether the Government has rejected the master plan, the spokesperson did not comment.

Three teams headed by PWD officials are working to fix the issues related to waterlogging in the city, an official said, but did not give a deadline by when they will come up with solutions.

Problems and backlogs

The master plan submitted in 2018 had also warned of such a possible irregularity of data. “It is possible that many of the data elements that have not been independently validated by the respective departments may be different on ground than the digital reality captured and used in the model,” the master plan read.

The TEC headed by member (river water) of the CWC with members from different departments of the Delhi Government was formed by the Chief Secretary in December 2011 to coordinate with IIT Delhi “on a regular basis” to decide design parameters among other functions related to the master plan.

But the TEC held its first meeting in almost eight years in May 2019, months after IIT Delhi submitted its final report.

During this meeting, the chairman of the TEC had expressed displeasure that the data provided by various departments to IIT Delhi was not verified, as per documents.

The TEC also decided that 10%-20% of the data given by the departments to IIT Delhi to make the master plan should be verified by the departments within 15 days.

But it took almost two years for this to be done and a decision taken on it.

“As per 10%-20% data verification exercise by stakeholders, there is still large discrepancies between field data and data used in the model [software] to prepare the final report,” the CWC document of August 9 said.

A main part of the master plan is a software created by IIT Delhi which can be used to generate different solutions for waterlogging.

For instance, the Public Works Department, which controls over 2,000 km of drains in the city, told the TEC that during ground verification of 10%-20% data used in the master plan, there was a “100% variation”, CWC document showed.

“IIT Delhi stated that it has trained 150 officers of different departments but every department in the meeting has expressed that they are not able to run the model,” read another reason cited in the CWC document for not accepting the report.

IIT-D was selected on “nomination basis” without an open tender and the contract for the master plan was signed in September 2011 for about ₹80 lakh.

Getting worse’

Meanwhile, the waterlogging in the city is getting worse, as per experts, which apart from problems with the drainage system is also due to the increased intensity of rainfall.

This monsoon, part of the city airport, the road outside American Embassy, road under AIIMS flyover and many other arterial roads were flooded. Roads were flooded in both poor or rich neighbourhoods of the city.

On July 19, a 27-year-old drowned in a waterlogged underpass in Pul Prahladpur. On the same day last year, a 56-year-old driver died in a waterlogged stretch under the Minto Bridge.

In the run up to the 2020 Assembly election, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had said that if re-elected then the government will make roads in Delhi like that of Tokyo and London in the next five years

But currently, many parts of the city go under with half an hour to one hour of rainfall during monsoons.

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