It is not enough to widen stormwater drains (‘nalas’) by removing encroachments to prevent large scale inundation during heavy rains. The issue of illegal occupation of tank beds and ensuring a comprehensive sewerage network for the entire city is as much vital, say senior officials.
While last Friday’s rain havoc has not only showcased the inadequate stormwater drain capacity leading to flooding in several low lying areas (26), 43 colonies coming under the Full Tank Level (FTL) of 17 water bodies too face inundation.
Due to undulating terrain of the twin cities, excess rain water drains off due to gravity usually. Yet, with rapid urbanisation, disappearance of tanks, low absorbing capacity of the ground and lack of separate sewer lines is leading to massive dislocation, they explain.
“We should stop gloating about underground drainage in the core city because sewer lines have been directly linked to stormwater drains everywhere indiscriminately. Suburbs do not have any underground sewage network save for a few parts of Serilingampally and Kukatpally,” they aver.
A glaring example of ills of not having proper sewer network in the suburbs where the population has doubled in the last decade is pollution of water bodies due to sewage flow. The colonies sewer lines in these places are linked to the tanks and with constant sewage flow, they cannot take any fresh inflows during a rain.
With houses very much built within the FTL, inundations happen. While constructions on the lake beds are clearly unauthorised as in Nadeem Colony; there are also sites where the layout has official sanction such as Nector Gardens abutting Durgam Cheruvu, from the erstwhile Hyderabad Urban Development Authority (HUDA).
This intermingling of sewer lines with stormwater pipelines and open drains becomes evident considering the rapid flow of water after a rain. “The continuous flow inside stormwater drains even during dry weather is indication of the lack of will or insufficient funds leading to quick fixes such as connecting sewer lines,” they say.
It not only causes flooding during the monsoon but damages roads too. Continuous flow of water even on some of the main thoroughfares as in Punjagutta due to leaks from overflowing drains spoils the road surface needing recarpetting every year at considerable cost.
“A multi-pronged strategy is needed to tackle flooding during a heavy rainfall. It should begin with demolishing at least some of the constructions that have come up on the lake beds, protecting the FTLs by fencing, laying extensive underground sewage and remodelling storm water drains,” senior officials affirm.
A Rs.2, 000 crore plan has been made for a new sewage network but has been hanging fire for want of funds. Its time for the government to take it up before another deluge hits us.