Life in Gurgaon

Measures to prevent repeat of massive 2016 traffic jam in Gurugram not in place

Source: Hindustan Times

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A Gurujam-esque situation at the Hero Honda Chowk, among other areas of the city, after almost four hours of moderate rain on Saturday, brought back horrors of the 20-hour-long jam in 2016 and exposed the effectiveness of measures taken by the civic bodies to prevent a repeat of the incident.

On Saturday, the newly inaugurated Hero Honda Chowk underpass and two carriageways of the Delhi-gurgaon Expressway—a 4km stretch between the Hero Honda Chowk and the Kherki Daula toll plaza—were submerged leading to jams that took about four hours to clear.

The fiasco is being blamed, in part, on the Haryana urban development authority (Huda) which failed to widen the 600metre stretch of Badshahpur drain near Khandsa village on time.

Badshahpur drain

Narrowing of the 29km drain to 10 metres at Khandsa village, near the Hero Honda Chowk, was identified as the core problem in the aftermath of the 2016 deluge.

Officials had said that the drain’s width was insufficient to allow all the storm water to pass, making it overflow on to the Delhi-gurgaon Expressway. A plan was drawn to widen the drain at Khandsa village to 30 metres, increasing its carrying capacity to 1,750 cusecs. However, till now, only houses on the stretch have been cleared to acquire land for the widening of drain.

Huda officials insisted that even though work is going on “at a fast pace”, the task of widening the box drain will not be completed this season.

“If the demolition drive had been carried out three months ago, the widening work could have been completed by now. But now, it has rained and the monsoon is fast approaching (June 28 for Delhi). The soil has become soft and chances of earth walls collapsing during digging have increased. As a temporary measure, we are installing a water pump at Khandsa to ensure water flows past this bottleneck,” Huda executive engineer Shweta Sharma, who is in-charge of the drain widening at Khandsa, said.

Officials of the Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA), which is now responsible for the upkeep and expansion of city’s civic infrastructure, also admitted that the drain expansion work would only be completed by next season.

Stating that the “city’s condition is better than last it was year in terms of its preparedness against waterlogging”, V Umashankar, the GMDA chief executive officer, said Bhadshapur drain is the biggest concern.

“A meeting was held on Friday, but after the waterlogging on Saturday, we have decided to hold meetings on June 15 and June 25, where the focus will be status of Huda’s work at Khandsa village,” Umashankar said.

Desilting work

When asked about GMDA’S plan to address waterlogging in other areas, such as Maharana Pratap Chowk, Udyog Vihar Phase 1, Sector 4-7 dividing road, sectors 9 and 22, Hans Enclave near Rajiv Chowk and Sohna Road, Umashankar said, “Work on desilting drains is going on. We (the GMDA and the MCG) are yet to allot some contracts for the work.”

The GMDA chief did not disclose the names of areas where the contracts are yet to be awarded, but sources said these areas include the Old Delhi Gurgaon Road and Sectors 27 and 43.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, MCG officials disclosed that, so far, 65% drains have been cleared, but it is yet to take up work in sectors 4,7, 9, 22 and 10. It is learnt that authorities have unofficially set June 30 as deadline for completing desilting.

Reviving ponds

Another solution the authorities had worked out was reviving natural ponds in low-lying areas of Sukhrali, Basai, Fazilpur, Sikanderpur, Jharsa ,Wazirabad, Jahajgarh and Samaspur. The idea was to use these areas as catchments where runoff rain water could accumulate.

The MCG has set aside Rs 20 crore from its 2018-19 budget for this purpose.

However, other than the pond in Sukhrali, which was allotted to a concessionaire in November 2017 for Rs 65 lakh, not much has happened since then as potential concessionaires and bidders did not show interest.

“MCG chief Yashpal Yadav has given top priority to this project and building creeks and bandhs across the city,” MCG additional municipal commissioner YS Gupta said.

However, work on the project is yet to start as the MCG cleared encroachments this April 25.

Building check dams

Building check dams in the Aravallis was another way to stop water from flowing towards low lying areas such as Ghata, Wazirabad, Silani, Haiderpur Viran, Chakkarpur and Nathupur.

After the state government gave its approval, work on building 250 check dams near the Ghata lake was to start in September 2016. But concern over the project cost made the government cut the number of check dams to five. The revised project’s cost is estimated at Rs 2.15 crore. The release of the revised estimates, too, is also in a limbo.

“The government has not sanctioned any funds for constructing check dams. We would have started work if the funds had been released,” Naresh Kataria, forest range officer said.

To expedite work, the GMDA formed a panel of senior engineering department officials from all civic bodies in April, and has since been holding meetings.