It is often remarked that “history repeats itself”. In Gurugram, it repeats itself every monsoon with the waterlogged roads every time it rains.
A heavy spell of rain, around 160 mm in a span of less than 36 hours on July 19, again left the city inundated with water gushing into houses, roads virtually turning into rivers and the underpasses on the national highway being flooded even claiming a life.
All major roads and intersections in the city were water-logged, but Sheetla Mata Mandir Road, a perennial water-logging point in old city, bore the brunt with the videos of devotees, including women and children, wading through waist-length water circulating on the social media platforms for days after the downpour.
But despite it raining dogs and cats for more than a day, the situation on the Raghvendra Road, better known as ‘Golf Course Road’, was remarkably better from the previous year with none of the underpasses on the road being inundated and the rain water getting cleared just a few hours after the downpour. In 2020, three underpasses on Raghvendra Road, a signal-free stretch through DLF area from Shankar Chowk to AIT Chowk, were inundated and had to be shut for the traffic, but the longest among them near DLF Phase-I Rapid Metro station was filled to the top.
“After the rains last year a committee comprising then MCG Commissioner Vinay Pratap Singh, Additional Commissioner Jaspreet Kaur and the local councillors in Zone-III, along the Golf Course Road, deliberated on the matter and decided that the four creeks flowing through the area be cleaned, widened and their segments reconnected to avoid flooding,” said Tushar Yadav, Executive Engineer, MCG Division-8, Zone-III. Mr. Yadav added that huge quantity of waste, mostly the construction and demolition waste, found dumped into the creeks was cleared, they were widened and the pipes from under the roads connecting them to the drain along the Chakkarpur-Wazirabad Bandh were de-silted. “Despite the heaviest rain of the season on July 19 and two more spells later, the situation on the Golf Course Road has been far better compared with the previous year. We now plan to plant vegetation along the creeks,” said Mr. Yadav. He, however, conceded that the work in the creeks was done without the supervision of an environment expert and not based on the any report or study.
Subhash Yadav, Head, Urban Environment Division, Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority said the agency constructed chutes on the roads along the creeks, raised the height of the speed-brakers, dug up contour trenches and created water bodies creeks in around 600 hectares area of Aravalis to successfully collect around 11,46,000 kl water on July 19. “The water collected was estimated to be equal to the city’s water supply for 3-4 days. Since the water drainage system of the city is not planned to handle the rainfall of this scale in a single day, waterlogging was caused in the city. But the situation could be far worse, had the water collected in the Aravalis had also flowed down into the city’s drainage system,” said Mr. Yadav.
He claimed that the experts had suggested construction of concrete check dams inside the creeks, but he used his expertise over the years to decide that earthen check dams were enough to hold the run-off keeping in view the amount of rainfall the city received.
Several environmentalists are, however, left fuming at what they call the “unscientific”, “short-term” and “quick-fix” approach of the government agencies to solve ecological issues. The environmentalists pointed out that the water bodies dug up in the creeks had left several trees uprooted and roots of many other exposed and caused the soil around them to erode causing more harm than good. “It seems that no calculations were done for the dimensions of the pit before digging it. After rains are over, these huge pits can be great dumping areas for construction and demolition waste and other wastes,” said Hemani Pundir Rawat, a volunteer for Clean Air, in a tweet about the pit dug in Creek-1 along Sunset Boulevard Road.
A few others have also objected to the construction of the unwanted cemented chutes despite hume pipes along the road and the “mindless” digging of the forest to create contour trenches and the setting up of avoidable check dams.
Saurav Bandhan, an environmentalist, said the government agencies must take “appropriate scientific measures” to collect and harvest the rainwater flowing down the creeks, ridges, natural drains of Aravali without displacing any trees and soil. “Widening of natural drains could be done but with proper care, and appropriate soil erosion prevention measures. Depending on the average annual rainfall, contour bunds or graded bunds could be constructed of proper structural design and construction material. Boulders, stones and rubble should be used. No cemented structures should be permitted in the Aravali. The rainwater runoff on the roads should be channelised into the natural drains, depressions, creeks etc. with the help of hume pipes with trash screens.”
He added that loose sandy soil of Aravali if compacted properly with vegetation to prevent erosion could be used for constructing the bunds or barriers but only with proper understanding of the slope, flow rate, volume of rainwater, and other factors and hydro-geological experts, geologists, structural engineers, etc. must be consulted and such projects to be implemented under their supervision. “ Aravali is an ecologically fragile mountain range. Destroying Aravalis will destroy the ecosystem of Gurgaon,” warned Mr. Bardhan.
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