Monday, July 27, 2009

Delhi collapses after 4 hours of rain

Be careful what you wish for ! Delhi and North India were bereft of rain during the first month of the rainy season. A bit about why Delhi is special. This is a city that is supposed to become a world class city, a city that will host the Commonwealth Games. It is the city that is the capital of a hot emerging economy, the city where people from over the world get their first glimpse of Delhi.
On 27/7/2009, the first major rainfall (major means this was 4 hours of rainfall, not 12 hours or something like that) brought this city to its knees. The news channels are full of roads being flooded, all the major intersections suffering heavy jams (including many areas of the New Delhi area that normally do not suffer traffic jams). Gridlock was the word, with many cases where people did not move beyond 100 meters in 2 hours.
What are the major causes of such a situation:
1. The Delhi drains need to be de-silted and the storm water system needs to be active. However, every year, the MCD makes tall promises and falls flat on its face. Same this year, roads were flooded in the first major rain; and huge amounts of money were supposedly spent on this desilting work.
2. No traffic management. When rains start, either the power to traffic lights go off, or they cannot handle the rain; further, traffic policemen are no longer to be seen. With Delhi traffic already known to be aggressive (stupid is another word), me-first causes huge jams at any place where more than 2 roads are commented
3. When such jams happen, there is no quick action to make things better. This is when the worst of governance can be seen. It was only after news channels started doing heavy criticism of the municipal and police response that they started swinging into action
4. Places such as low lying roads or under-passes where water causes flooding are supposedly provided by pumps, but when you need them, they do not take action
There were people interviewed on TV, and a lot of them commented on how there was no action by the Government, and where were the leaders ? Well, the leaders are waiting for the day to be over, and the public to forget that something like this happened.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 10:40 AM