Image Source : INDIA TV India TV Editor-in-Chief Rajat Sharma

The first monsoon rains caused a deluge in the capital on Friday, breaking an eight-decades-old record. 228 mm of rains in a span of only four hours recorded the highest June day rainfall in 88 years, leaving five people died and causing waterlogging across the capital. Vehicles were stranded in traffic nightmares for hours, and most of the localities and roads were waterlogged. The civic authorities appeared helpless, as strong winds accompanied by heavy showers uprooted trees and blew away roofs. The most alarming mishap took place at Indira Gandhi International Airport, where the canopy of the forecourt of Terminal One departure gates, crashed on to vehicles, leaving a cab driver Ramesh Kumar dead and eight others injured. Huge iron girders fell on vehicles parked below the canopy. Flight operations at T1 were immediately suspended and shifted to T2 and T3. Nearly 128 flights were cancelled. The new Civil Aviation Minister Ram Mohan Naidu went to the airport and coordinated rescue operations. The Centre has ordered a nationwide audit of all airports by undertaking detailed structural inspections, so that all safety standards are met. Political blamegame soon began, with BJP leaders pointing out that the canopy was built in 2009 during UPA regime, while Congress leaders alleged that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi had inaugurated the new Terminal One in March this year. Praful Patel, who was Civil Aviation Minister in 2009, claimed that one of the world’s top companies had built the roof canopy of Delhi airport’s Terminal One, and only a thorough inquiry can pinpoint the exact cause of the mishap. A similar mishap took place on Friday at Jabalpur airport, where a part of the canopy crashed down after heavy downpour. Whether it is Delhi or Jabalpur, such mishaps should be a reason for worry. The question is not about when these roofs were built under which regime. The question relates to regular maintenance, accountability must be fixed and the guilty should be punished. Airports Authority charges hefty fees from flyers for maintenance of airports. Political parties should avoid making political capital from tragedies. It would be unfair to blame Prime Minsiter Modi for such mishaps. 

WATERLOGGING

 
The roads and main arteries of Delhi were flooded after the heavy downpour. In some localities, people had to use boats, while homes and underpasses were flooded. Thousands of vehicles were stranded in long traffic jams. Houses collapsed in many localities. The residences of some MPs like Shashi Tharoor, Manoj Tewari and Ram Gopal Yadav in VIP Lutyens’ Zone were flooded. Yadav had to be carried on shoulders to his car, as he had to attend the Parliament session. In a strange coincidence, the residence of Delhi Minister Atishi, who had sat on 4-day-long fast demanding more water for the capital, was also flooded. An emergency meeting of Delhi ministers and bureaucrats was called, a control room was set up, and measures were put in place to clear the drainage system. The blamegame began. BJP leaders alleged that Delhi government did not take adequate measures and drains were not cleared resulting in waterlogging. Minister Atishi said, Delhi’s drainage system is equipped to face only 50 mm rainfall, and Friday’s rainfall was four times that figure. BJP MP Manoj Tiwari alleged that since AAP controlled both Delhi government and Municipal Corporation of Delhi, it was to blame for not taking timely measures. Whether it is shortage of water or a deluge, AAP leaders blame it on BJP, while BJP leaders blame Kejriwal’s party for Delhi’s woes. The ground reality is quite different. You may be surprised to know that the total length of Delhi’s drains in 3314.54 km, and there are 201 natural drains. The main problem is that the responsibility of cleaning and maintenance of drainage system in different localities is with various agencies, like Irrigation and Flood Control department, PWD, Municipal Corporation, New Delhi Municipal Council and Delhi Development Authority. All these agencies are supposed to work for the betterment of the people of Delhi, but there is clear lack of coordination between them. The Centre, Delhi government and Lt. Governor have powers to interfere in Delhi’s civic matters, and frequent quarrels between the Centre and AAP govt are an open secret. Whenever there is any calamity, both sides try to blame the other, and the ordinary Delhiite faces woes every year, water or no water.

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