Poorly maintained storm-water drains prove hazardous

Perennial issue: One of the drains that flows into the main Dwarka drain.  

Ram Puran Singh, a resident of south-west Delhi’s Mahavir Enclave, wakes up every morning to the stench of an open drain across his house and the sight of neighbours throwing plastic bags into the mucky, stagnant water.

It has been three years since he was diagnosed with severe asthma and the doctors suspect constant exposure to toxic fumes emanating from the drain as the reason.

“There is an unauthorised colony here and also a DDA colony on the other side of the drain. Hundreds of residents here have no other option but to live with this odour. Many people dump their household waste into the drain and it is only an annual affair for the municipalities to clean it, which also means pretending to sieve out the waste,” said Mr. Singh.

The 20-foot-wide drain has put the lives of several families living in Dwarka Sector-1 at risk. The resident body of Apna Niwas, a DDA SFS colony in Pocket-2, has been seeking relief from the pollution, but no help has been extended by either the Delhi government or the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC).

“The colony has 208 flats and a portion of the colony’s houses face the drain. The health risks that the residents here are facing are very high. Especially during monsoon, the area becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes,” said Bhupal Sharma, the president of the Residents’ Welfare Association (RWA) of Apna Niwas.

He said if the storm-water drains have to be kept open, then the authorities should also ensure that the drains are properly maintained.

“We are just demanding our basic living rights. This is a stagnant drain which is a breeding ground for mosquitoes. This cannot drain out rainwater like a storm-water drain should. The government and the municipality needs to give us some solution for this,” Mr. Sharma said.

Mr. Sharma said they also have to deal with the damage to electrical appliances because of hydrogen sulphide, also known as sewer gas, emanating from the drain.

The gas turns corrosive when it turns into sulphuric acid, eating away air conditioners, refrigerators and television sets. In most houses, the air conditioners barely last for four to five years, and need gas filling every year.

In a house away from such a toxic drain, refilling of gas is required only once in seven to eight years.

This is the state of over 50 residential neighbourhoods across the Capital, which are situated on the sides of open storm-water drains. Instead of maintaining cleanliness, the civic agencies have turned a blind eye towards it.

Covering drains

Though the National Green Tribunal had in 2014 passed an order against the covering of storm-water drains stating that covering of drains will result in increased toxicity and health hazards owing to trapped gases, many residents’ bodies have demanded that if not complete closure, the authorities should at least consider covering these drains with iron grills to prevent people from throwing trash into it.

In drains around Dwarka Sector-3, the Delhi Development Authority had promised to treat the drain biologically, but residents say the assurances haven’t been acted upon.

“A few years ago, we submitted a memorandum to then Urban Development Minister Jaipal Reddy and he announced closure of the drain running behind the society. But, nothing happened. We later came to know ₹14 crore was sanctioned for treating the drain but even that seems to have vanished” said Rakesh Singh, a resident .

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Printable version | Apr 12, 2021 1:40:50 AM |

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