A CAG report shows how agencies dealing with flood control and drainage system in the national capital failed to do their job
S Krishnan | October 4, 2016
The waterlogged roads and huge traffic jams witnessed in Delhi in August hogged the headlines in the media, with the high court judges hitting out at the Delhi government. Even the US secretary of state, John Kerry, joked about the situation in his address at IIT Delhi the same month, by asking the audience whether they had all come by boat.
The comptroller and auditor general of India (CAG) conducted a performance audit to analyse the roles of various agencies concerned with the management of flood control and drainage system in Delhi, as a sequel to the heavy waterlogging in Delhi during the 2013 monsoon that had caused heavy traffic congestion and consequent hardship to the public. The CAG’s Report No. 2 of 2014 in this connection was submitted to the Lt. Governor of Delhi on August 1, 2014 for being placed before parliament.
The key findings of the report reveal the extent of mismanagement that resulted in the 2013 chaos and could still be a reason for the August mess.
As per CAG, in Delhi the threat of floods is posed mainly by two rivers – the Yamuna and the Sahibi passing through the Najafgarh drain. The Yamuna enters Delhi’s territory at village Palla and leaves at village Jaitpur after travelling 48 kilometres. “The water level and current in the Yamuna is influenced by release of water from Hathni Kund barrage in Haryana. At times, especially in monsoons, the surplus water released from this barrage raises the water level in the river and causes the back-flow effect in the city’s drains,” said the report.
It observed that the storm water drainage system in Delhi comprises Najafgarh, Kanjhawala, Alipur, Shahdara and Mehrauli drainage basins, large natural drains, storm drains and even combined sewer-cum-storm water drains in some areas. “The drainage network of Delhi is designed to collect all water through main drains, link drains and small rivulets, which finally discharge into the Yamuna. The existing drainage system in Delhi, based on the ‘Master Plan of Drainage’ finalised way back in 1981, has become outdated to face the increased pressure of rapid urbanisation of the city,” CAG noted.
‘Drainage and Embankments’ is a subject of the state list, and thus the Delhi government is responsible for the national capital’s flood control and drainage system, managed by multiple agencies including irrigation and flood control department (IFCD), public works department (PWD), municipal corporations of Delhi, New Delhi municipal council (NDMC) and Delhi jal board (DJB).
Key audit findings:
CAG deserves to be complimented for such an in-depth audit of the flood control and drainage system in Delhi. It is hoped that the report will be taken seriously by all concerned.
The devastating effect caused by neglecting basic civic facility of a good drainage system in Delhi has not only led to thousands of families being exposed to dengue and chikungunya, but also to economic hardship particularly for the weaker sections of society, due to loss of wages.
The discussions on the onset of dengue and chikungunya so far have been more of making it a political issue rather than focussing on the root causes and how to overcome them. Can the citizens of Delhi hope that remedial action will be taken on war-footing to prevent a recurrence before the next monsoon, which is now less than a year away?
Krishnan, IAAS (retired), served as additional secretary, ministry of finance.
(The column appears in the October 1-15, 2016 issue)
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