In an attempt to pre-empt heavy monsoon rain and worsening road conditions, the Delhi government had launched a 24×7 helpline in mid-July to register waterlogging and potholes.
Several hundred millimetres of rain, a plethora of traffic jams, and more than two weeks later, road conditions in the Capital continue to be a source of headache for commuters.
Waterlogged roads and potholes have become an annual occurrence in the National Capital Region (NCR). But with the death of a biker, who was mowed down by a truck as he struggled to free himself from a gaping pothole in Vasant Kunj last week, the situation has turned more dangerous.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had given strict directions to the Public Works Department (PWD) to address waterlogging complaints within an hour of receiving them. While sources in the department say it was “doing its best”, Delhiites are growing increasingly frustrated.
More than 400 waterlogging and pothole complaints from Ring Road, Defence Colony, South Extension, Nehru Place, Sarai Kale Khan and the Okhla junction among others, were marked unresolved in July alone by the PWD.
As a result Tilak Nagar, Mangolpuri, Daulatpur, Malviya Nagar, Saket, Hauz Khas, Aurobindo Marg, Karampura, IGNOU Road, Karol Bagh, Khajuri Khas and Sarita Vihar Apollo become a nightmare for commuters even if there is a light shower.
As per PWD figures, the department received 1,219 waterlogging complaints in July out of which 161 are pending. It also received 1,108 pothole complaints in July out of which 242 are yet to be resolved.
This month, the PWD is yet to resolve 19 of the 20 waterlogging complaints and 15 of the 17 pothole complaints.
A government source told The Hindu that efforts to “ensure that the Capital’s roads are in better condition than ever before for the monsoon by next year” will be taking off from September 15.
Some take matter into their own hands
Delhiites say they had afforded the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government some sympathy last year due to its “inexperience at the helm of a government”, but this year many many have taken the matter into their own hands.
Sunil Kumar, a taxi stand owner in Madhuban Enclave, said: “We’re tired of waiting for the government to do something. There is no place to even walk, so we’re filling up potholes ourselves.”
Kumar’s story is not isolated, as several other business owners and proprietors around the Delhi NCR area have refused to let their businesses suffer while waiting for the Delhi government to take action.
Aside from being a financial hindrance, potholes and waterlogging are also putting lives in danger.Children and commuters near the Karakardooma Metro Station are forced to wait in the middle of the road for their buses because the designated bus-stop area is inaccessible due to waterlogging.
“This happens every year because they build the road with bad material that don’t last even one rainfall,” said Mohammad Naeem, a shop owner near Dariyaganj.
“It’s good that they’re building things like the Metro, but they shouldn’t make things like that if they can’t even take care of the roads and remake them well,” Mr. Naeem added.
Plans for next monsoon
Meanwhile the government said that the PWD was putting nearly 800 water pumps, over 130 mobile teams and close to 900 personnel to work in its bid to ensure that waterlogging and pothole complaints are dealt with within an hour of being logged.
“We are in the process of evolving, and are seeking expert advice on ensuring that engineering faults are corrected and the potholes are dealt with in as permanent a manner as possible by next year; the process will begin post monsoon on September 15,” said the source.