Patna: Heavy rains in the past two days once again raised fear among Patna’s inhabitants of last year’s nightmare of the worst ever waterlogging that hit headlines. The rains also exposed the Nitish Kumar government claim that waterlogging problems have been taken care of.
It may be recalled that last September-October, several posh localities in Patna were waterlogged for days. On Friday and Saturday, similar fears haunted thousands of city residents as well as visitors from outside who are here for medical care and marketing purpose.
Waterlogging in the heart of Patna, one of the aspiring ‘Smart Cities’ has raised eyebrows over repeated claims made by chief minister Nitish Kumar and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi. Last year, soon after the worst waterlogging embarrassed both of them, the state government had announced a permanent solution for recurring waterlogging.
Last month, Modi reviewed the state of preparedness of different government agencies to deal with waterlogging in Patna
and claimed that there would be waterlogging.
But reality on the ground tells a different story. Roads and lanes of several residential localities including Rajendar Nagar,Kankarbagh Colony,Rajvanshi Nagar,S K Puri,Kadam Kuan,Boring Road,Station Road,Bakerganj,Bazar Samiti,Postal Park,Patel Nagar and other areas, were waterlogged after Patna recorded 96 mm rains in last 36 hours. His was the first spell of heavy rains after monsoon hit Patna on June 15 (Monday).
The rains also exposed the claims made by Patna Municipal Corporation about its preparedness to deal with the monsoon.
That’s not all, amid the pandemic, dirty water entered the ICU and medical wards of Patna-based government-run Nalanda Medical College and Hospital, one of the three designated COVID-19 treatment centres in the state. The local authorities had to pump out the water.
Sensing that the failure of the government may stir anger among people a few months ahead of the Bihar Assembly elections, Nitish Kumar, a seasoned politician, came out of his official residence on Friday, first time after a gap of nearly three months (as alleged by opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal) after the lockdown began in March, and inspected the situation in different waterlogged localities and drainage pumping stations at Pahari and Yogipur.
Without wasting an opportunity to target the government’s failure for waterlogging in Patna, Bihar leader of opposition Tejashwi Yadav took to waterlogged streets, met local residents and assured them on raising the issue.
Yadav warned the government that this time plying boats would not help as waterlogging would be “severe”, accusing the government of completing work only on paper.
Last year, after heavy rains of 343 mm recorded in Patna between September 27 and 30, more than one million people were hit by the prolonged waterlogging. It also resulted in damaged or loss of property worth several crores of rupees.
After that, several government officers were suspended and penalised on the basis of the recommendation of an inquiry into the cause of water logging.
Ironically, the much awaited detailed project report for Patna’s drainage master plan has not been prepared till date. Officials in the urban development department said that a Hyderabad-based company had started its work in early June only.
Last month, Bihar Urban Development Minister Suresh Kumar Sharma, at a review meeting, expressed displeasure over the slow progress on preparation of Patna's drainage system. After that, Urban Infrastructure Development Corporation (BUIDCo) MD Raman Kumar directed the company to start work from June first week.
Sharma has ordered an inquiry into purchase of equipment worth Rs 167 crore by BUIDCo for strengthening the drainage system and purchase of additional equipment, like submersible pumps, diesel generators sets, diesel pumps, to deal with operation and maintenance of 39 existing drainage pumping stations and 27 temporary drainage pumping stations, to be installed by July this year.
Realising the likely waterlogging problem, ruling Bharatiya Janata Party MP from Patliputra (constituency name of Patna )Ram Kirpal Yadav has urged Nitish Kumar to review preparedness of PMC and other civic agencies to deal with waterlogging.
“What is the use of spending crores in the name of de-silting the drains when a brief spell of rain can turn the city into islands” he wrote in the letter to the CM.
According to officials in the urban department, crores of rupees were spent on de-siltation and deep cleaning of big and small drains in the past few months without any result, as most of these were not fully completed.