NEW DELHI: Heavy downpour on Wednesday morning brought Delhi and three satellite towns -- Gurgaon and Noida and Faridabad -- to a standstill with water logging causing huge traffic snarls across these places. US Secretary of State John Kerry for the second time became a victim of the traffic girdlock, which follows almost every heavy rainfall.
Kerry was 40 minutes late for an event at the IIT as his convoy waded through the waterlogged roads from his hotel Leela Palace, otherwise a 15-minute ride. “You guys deserve an award for being able to get here today. I don’t know if you came in boats or amphibious vehicles of some kind. But I salute you,” Kerry to a packed audience at IIT, who was to visit the Sisganj Gurudwara, Gaurishankar Temple and the Jama Masjid after his IIT event, but that programme was cancelled. Earlier his convoy was caught in traffic upon his arrival in Delhi on Monday also.
Commuters had harrowing time and as few of vehicles, including buses, got completely drowned in the water logging leading police and fire department to carry out rescue operations. All flights to and from Delhi have were delayed in the morning and some flights were diverted to Jaipur.
But the AAP government -- responsible for desilting of drains to avoid water logging -- blamed Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the mayhem. Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia alleged that the situation arose as the bureaucrats handpicked by Jung are neither attending meetings nor listening to their ministers. Sisodia along with Delhi Home Minister Satyender Jain also targeted the Prime Minister over the ‘shunting’ out of top bureaucrats and setting up of the LG-constituted panel to examine files, alleging that it was formed at the “behest” of Prime Minister. He also said that the municipal bodies in Delhi are BJP-ruled while Police comes under the Centre.
The blame game was at its top as Congress slammed the AAP government and BJP-ruled municipal corporations for the chaos caused due to water-logging in and claimed that such a situation has not been witnessed in the past seven years. Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken accused the AAP government of not completing the work of desilting of drains.“Only 30 per cent desilting of drains had been done till July 5. According to norms, the desilting exercise should have been completed by May 15,” he said.
But High Court took a strong stand and stated, “We cannot tolerate this year after year.” The sharp reaction of the High Court came after witnessing water logging on major roads and crippling of traffic movement.
“There is no justification for clogged drains. We cannot tolerate this year after year,” the court said when it took up a matter relating to water logging of South Extension area of South Delhi. Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed, who was hearing the matter along with Justice Ashutosh Kumar, said when he was on the way to court this morning, “even the road in front of the Vice President's residence was waterlogged.” The bench also observed that pools of water collected on roads after the rains due to poor drainage became breeding grounds for mosquitoes, leading to the spread of vector-borne diseases like dengue and chikungunya. The court was hearing a PIL relating to steps to check water logging in this area, a matter it has been monitoring since 2012.
It started raining in the morning and took face of torrential downpour after 8:30 am but the condition worsened for the daily commuters where they had to test their patience level getting stuck in traffic snarls. In last three hours, Safdarjung observatory observed heavy rains of 63 mm while during the similar time frame, the Palam observatory witnessed hefty showers of 56 mm.
Amid all these, the traffic police personnel, drenched in rains, were out on city roads managing traffic and helping commuters. Similarly, the public works department of Delhi government formed teams to attend to water logging complaints. “A total 230 complaints were received today, all of which were attended by the fully mobilised PWD team. But due to heavy intensity of rainfall, at some locations, it took 30-45 minutes to clear the water logging,” the Delhi government issued a statement.