The urban planning mess of Millennium City, with its swanky malls, high-rises and luxurious office spaces, is laid bare every time it rains here. The situation has worsened with the growing population and traffic over the years and the city has almost been brought to its knees thrice over the past five years by heavy rain.
It was no different on August 19 when around 120 mm of rainfall within a span of a few hours left the city inundated with flooded underpasses, roads turning into rivers and water seeping into high-rises. Urban planners and the municipal officials, conceding the lacuna in the planning, now agree that water recharge systems and check dams alone could be a feasible solution.
Speaking to The Hindu , Gurugram Municipal Commissioner Vinay Pratap Singh emphasised that water recharge systems and arresting the run-off from Aravalis with check dams were key to avoiding frequent waterlogging and flooding in the city.
“Even if a good drainage system is put in place, it is better to do rainwater harvesting. It not just prevents flooding, but recharges the groundwater which is so crucial for the city,” said Mr. Singh. He cited the example of Maruti Suzuki India Limited digging up around hundred rainwater harvesting pits along the boundary wall of its plant on Old Delhi Gurugram Road four years ago. It effectively addresses waterlogging in and outside the plant and recharges groundwater as well.
Mr. Singh said check dams were constructed in the Aravalis and were inspected before the monsoon this year, but they failed to produce the desired results causing flooding on Golf Course Road. It would be reviewed. This year, the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) had an additional limiting factor of shortage of labour due to the lockdown, he added. “The contractors worked with almost 30% workforce,” said Mr. Singh.
The new infrastructure developed over the past few years has also disrupted the drainage system and there was a need “to go back and sit with our designers and engineers to see that all that is there on the paper also exists on the ground,” said Mr. Singh.
Since the 2016 gridlock, an underpass and a flyover have been constructed at Hero Honda Chowk, the internal drainage system in many parts of the city has been revamped and Badshahpur drain has been lined and widened almost all along its length. A small patch of the drain in Khandsa, though, is incomplete due to land dispute with the owner. However, a stretch of NH-48 near Narsinghpur village is a perennial waterlogging point and the authorities have failed to find a solution.
Unlike Noida, Gurugram is largely developed by private enterprises in bits and pieces and does not have an integrated drainage system — one of the important reasons for the frequent flooding. The civic infrastructure of the city is also not entirely maintained by the municipal corporation. Around ten private colonies have been taken over by the MCG over the past five years, but the rest, around 70, are still with developers and lack adequate drainage, sewage and electricity infrastructure.
In many areas, including MCG and Haryana Sahari Vikas Pradhikaran sectors, the drainage system is not connected to the main drain and has no outlet. The natural water channels and ponds have not been preserved. Most of them have been encroached or thrown open to construction in the last two development plans of Gurugram, thus hampering the natural flow and dispersal of water.
Endorsing the views of Mr. Singh, town planner Parveen Gulia said that creating rainwater harvesting structures was the most feasible solution. “Gurugram has no integrated drainage master plan. It is also not possible to create a linear drainage system now because of the huge land cost involved. Also, the natural nullahs and ponds have been encroached upon or lost to construction. The most practical solution, therefore, is to create rainwater harvesting wells. It will turn rainwater into a boon,” said Mr. Gulia.
The city has been mostly concretised and the run-off coefficient is thus high, around 60-80%. Mr. Gulia said the city had a natural depression from east to west and there was a need to revive bundhs .
Former general-secretary of Sector 23A RWA Bhawani Shankar Tripathy said the MCG was a major culprit since the drainage system was not maintained and the waste management too was poor. “Contracts worth crores are awarded every year for desilting and maintenance of storm water drainage network, but there is lack of honest audit of the work being completed and as per requirement. Wastes of all kinds, be it municipal solid waste, construction and demolition waste or industrial waste, also continuously find their way into storm water drains,” said Mr. Tripathy.