Gurgaon's Monsoon Nightmare: Who Is To Be Blamed?

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Traffic chaos at a road around Hero Honda Chowk after heavy rains in Gurgaon on Friday. (PTI Photo)


Gurgaon:  The Delhi and Haryana governments may have passed the buck on to each other, trading charges over Gurgaon's mammoth traffic mess on Thursday night, but the question is still being asked: Was this unprecedented nightmare - of 15 km long traffic jams that lasted for up to six hours - unavoidable or waiting to happen?

A dip into the past might help explain the present. A large tract of land facing the last pillars of the under-construction Rapid Metro is sector 58, a low-lying area where a Bund called the Ghata Bund was built in the 19th century. The bund held back water that came down from the Aravallis on the other side.

In 2011, despite a clear warning from the Irrigation Department of Haryana not to construct in the submergence area went unheeded as a massive high-rise complex now dominates the skyline here, even though the threat of flooding hasn't been tackled.

Sector 58 isn't an exception. The area around Badshahpur Jheel, that's near Subhash Chowk, closer to the Southern Peripheral Expressway has also seen rapid transformation. From a low-lying area that had a water body, in the last one decade, it has seen rapid changes. Not too long back, in June 2013, a portion of this was filled up and now the Southern Peripheral Road cuts across the original water body. In a low lying area like this, such concrete lining, where the water has no escape route, it is likely to clog the roads, adding to the traffic snarls.

Such examples are seen across Gurgaon, where traditional nullahs, water bodies, green patches have systematically disappeared making way for a concrete jungle.

Environmentalist Analyst Chetan Agarwal said, "When you analyse the rapid urbanisation that has taken place in Gurgaon over the last 10 years, two-thirds of the total area is going to be concretised. There will be hardly any space left for the water to go."

But the government has deflected the blame calling it a legacy issue, something that will take a while to sort out. Advisor to Haryana CM Jawhar Yadav told NDTV, "We can't deny that there has been a lot of construction taking place, but that is because of blatant building activity allowed by the previous government. We have started a lot of projects to sort these problems of bottleneck, cleaning of drains etc. But we will need another two years before you can see the full results. It will take time."

What's ironic is that for a city where the water table is falling by more than a metre per year, the rains that should have brought much needed relief have instead opened the city to utter chaos thanks to the haphazard, unregulated development.


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