Editorial | The Rains and the Drains

Srinagar City seems to have become a battle ground for the rains and drains. The most ironical side of the battle is that it has been going on for ages and no one has been able to sort out this competition between the rains and the drains! Most of the areas which get water logged both in heavy rains and after a snowfall are situated below the water level of the River Jhelum. This prevents natural drainageby gravity. It needs pumping out of rain water which can be successful only if all the drains are interconnected and have free flow of waste water. Moreover, it needs pumping stations. Water logging of Lal Chowk is not a new phenomenon but has been happening for a long time. Reportedly the drains are choked with silt and garbage thrown by people into these. This prevents free flow of water even if pumps are installed. Recently the fire brigade had come to the rescue and the portable fire-engines had been pumping out waste water to river Jhelum. There cannot be anything more humiliating than the world famous Lal Chowk named after the Moscow’s Red Square having fire brigade engines pumping out rain water!

This is supposed to be the symbol of the “Smart City”! Firstly, there seems to be total lack of co-ordination between various departments supposed to be responsible for the drainage and its proper working. Officially overall drainage comes under the Housing and Urban Development Department. The directly concerned is the Urban Environmental Engineering Department in short called UEED. The Municipal Corporations which are supposed to look after the functioning of the drains after these are constructedalso come under the Urban Development Department.However, there is no co-ordination between various departments at the time of the construction of the drains and the subsequent functioning of these. Interestingly, in 2017 the Asian Development Bank had been submitted a proposal costing Rs 300 crores for the complete overhaul of the drainage of the Srinagar city. It is not known whether the amount was released and what happened to it? The new drainage system was supposed to totally streamline the existing messy system. The set up was supposed to have Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA), a system that utilises networked servers and personal computers, cellular telecommunications and specialised software to monitor the operation of mechanical drainage facilities. It is not known whether any progress was made on the system? Leaving the sophisticated systems aside, the immediate problem is the choking of drains and the absence of any mechanised clearance of rain water. Again the sister department of Public Works (PWD) while macadamising the roads most often closes the manholes leaving no space for clearing the choked drains. In these circumstances, the ideal thing would be for the Chief Executive to take a meeting of all concerned and ensure immediate action on all fronts with continuous monitoring. In the alternative we have to be prepared to get our world famous square inundated again and again apart from the rest of the city!

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