‘Floods were not natural, humans responsible’

Rapid encroachment and bad engineering responsible for the crisis, say experts
Houses submerged in the floodwaters of  Yamuna river near Nizamuddin Bridge, in New Delhi, Tuesday, July 18, 2023. (Photo|PTI)
Houses submerged in the floodwaters of Yamuna river near Nizamuddin Bridge, in New Delhi, Tuesday, July 18, 2023. (Photo|PTI)

NEW DELHI: Three days after Delhi cabinet minister Saurabh Bharadwaj claimed that the flooding in the city was a result of a deliberate act by the BJP-led Centre and the Haryana government, as they intentionally released water towards the national capital, one of the former chief engineers of Haryana irrigation department said that the state had no role in it.

Bharadwaj highlighted that despite the absence of rainfall in Delhi over the past 3-4 days, the water level in Yamuna had risen to 208.66 meters. However, RK Garg, retired chief engineer of the Haryana irrigation department stated that the state had no role in Delhi’s floods.

“Hathnikund is a barrage and not a dam. The difference between a dam and a barrage is that a dam stores water while a barrage diverts the water,” Garg pointed out.

Further elaborating on the causes of the floods in the national capital, Garg said, “Delhi is fortunate enough to have an efficient drain in the form of the Yamuna. It collects water from the entire catchment area but unfortunately, it is the sole responsibility of the city to stop all the natural drainages that lead to floods. We can’t call Delhi a planned city as it has been overtaken by unauthorized structures. The encroachment on the drainage line is blocking the flow of the water and then the bad engineering of the non-aligned roads makes it worse.”

Echoing a similar opinion, CR Babu, professor emeritus, former pro-vice-chancellor of Delhi University and head of the Centre for Environment Management of Degraded Ecosystems said that Delhi floods were not natural floods but rather human-mediated which have disturbed the entire ecological system.

“From Wazirabad barrage to Okhla barrage, we had a floodplain of 5 km which allowed 3.5 lakh cusecs of water to flow smoothly but the flood plain was reduced to only 300 metres after the flood. Now since the passage became narrow, the water level was raised to 2.8 and we saw it overflowing on the embankments.”

Ramesh Negi, CEO of Delhi Jal Board from 2008-2012 and additional commissioner at MCD handling drainage system from 2008-10, said, “Drainage needs to be maintained, people need to be sensitized. We need to fill the gaps and a master plan needs to be in place to salvage what we lost.”

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