Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

Monsoon: An Unwelcomed Bliss and an unequipped infrastructure…

Shilpi Tandon | August 17, 2016 11:22 am Print
Not only smaller cities and towns, but big, metropolitan ‘smart’ cities like Mumbai, Kolkata, New Delhi, Pune, Chennai… all ride in the same boat….
Delhi reels under Monsoon fury with roads water- logged

Even after almost seven decades of our independence, aren’t we still scapegoats of these constant ‘Political Power Fights’ and ‘Mutual Blame Games’? Aren’t the promises related to ‘good’ roads just a vote bank gimmick? Let’s find out….

“There is a new urban renaissance that is taking place. Cities are trying to be smart…. making people’s lives comfortable…… There is tremendous interest in people and they are willing to participate,” M Venkaiah Naidu, urban development minister

The weather seemed to be quite muggy since morning, so when the monsoon clouds gathered, and it started pouring in our very own Millennium City, Gurugram, popularly known as Gurgaon, the sprinkles felt like a boon…. God truly has created everything for our sake and comfort only. The fact is, it is actually we, who are not able to value that, and, on the contrary, keep damaging this beautiful creation of God, called ‘Nature’….

In our Indian culture, celebration means food. So, to complement and celebrate this monsoon mood, I prepared ‘Pakodas’ in the evening and served them with a nice ginger tea to my family. While we enjoyed the ‘monsoon combo’ in an open terrace, one of my friends, in whose ‘baby shower’ ceremony I had gone a few days ago, called back. She told me that she was in the doctor’s clinic for a routine check-up at the time I had called her. When enquired, she told that the Doctor had advised her to be ‘fully ‘prepared for anytime ‘labour’. She further told me that her mother and mother-in-law were to join her in the next two days. She was sounding a little nervous so I comforted her, saying, that everything would be fine, and assured her that I was just a phone call away in case of any urgent help or need.

A little over midnight, we woke up to a phone call. The news from the other side sent chills down my spine. My friend’s husband told me that she was admitted in EMERGENCY, and was about to be taken into OT. We hurriedly headed to our car. But, as we stepped out, we realized that the passage to our parked car was quite soggy and slippery. As we moved, we noticed that the drizzling had turned into heavy showers and the car wheels were deep into water. The water could be felt even inside car, under our feet. It felt like we were getting swept away in flood. We kept trying to proceed cluelessly, as it was dark and water seemed to have clogged the whole area. Our mobiles’ batteries too went dead, and since we forgot to take the chargers with us, we remained in dark about my friend’s condition till we reached hospital. It took us seven hours to cover that 7 kilometres distance. My friend was stable and the baby was in the special care unit as the little one had breathed in the Meconium and Amniotic fluid mixture in a large quantity due to her mother’s difficult and long labour. Her husband told us that as they live in a low lying area, they had to face a nightmarish experience while reaching the hospital, turning my friend’s normal pregnancy to a critical one.

This is not the only incident which anyone of us would have experienced or heard during Monsoon time in India. A 14-year-old student was electrocuted after coming in contact with a live wire at a waterlogged area in Kolkata last week. Last month, three persons and a dog were electrocuted in three separate incidents in the National Capital. They all had accidentally stepped into a pool of rainwater in which electricity was running through a live uninsulated wire from a nearby pole. Every other day, there are several news regarding vehicles’ break downs, accidents and what not…!! There is a much ‘under noticed’ and a ‘less attended’ problem too. Many people, especially ladies, while stuck in traffic jams, find it difficult to answer nature’s call due to lack of public utility restrooms in the roadsides. This can create numerous health hazards even to the healthiest people. Various critically and terminally ill patients in their vulnerable and serious condition are the worst sufferers. Sometimes, they succumb to the prolong wait for medical attention. They remain stuck in traffic jams due to this waterlogging, and lose that precious ‘life saving time’.

Heavy rainfall during the monsoon season creates unfavourable road conditions. Waterlogging of roads, especially in the low lying areas is common. This is due to the drainage system of the country not being up to the required standard and drains not being properly cleaned. Heavy rain compounded with waste materials invariably cause clogging of the drains, and this in turn, leads to flooding on roads. Indian roads are also dotted with pot holes, and numerous man holes are left open without adequate signs, especially during the rainy season. During waterlogging, it is impossible to locate these traps, and therefore, road accidents are inevitable. Added to this, are the slippery road conditions. Dust and lubricants mixed with rain water make the road slippery. Poor lighting on roads is another critical issue. Rainfall, as it is, reduces visibility, and if there is a lack of appropriate street lights, road safety naturally gets compromised.

The ‘rainwater infrastructure’ and the ‘rainwater harvesting project’, if exist at all, are not sufficient to guarantee the drainage of the water, resulting in the streets in low-lying areas get inundated. Roads are blocked leading to traffic jams. Pedestrians have to wade through flooded streets, and especially, the urban poor, living in slums have their homes often damaged by the water, which may take several days to recede. The water becomes polluted when it mixes with the garbage and waste that is littered everywhere, and apart from disrupting traffic, it also becomes a risk to health. Not only smaller cities and towns, but big, metropolitan ‘smart’ cities like Mumbai, Kolkata, New Delhi, Pune, Chennai… all ride in the same boat….

When we know and accept that Indian economy largely depend upon A ‘Good Monsoon Season’, why don’t we welcome it with advance preparations?? Why are we in a constant ‘Denial’ and a ‘Blame-Game’ mode??
Infrastructural development shows the growth of a city. Its absence not only dampens a city’s image, but also, the image of the country as well. The negligence from authorities is highly condemnable… Common Man, who pays taxes all his life, for these developments, growth and constructions, himself remains the victim, the scapegoat and, the sufferer of this constant vote bank fight, false promises …or may be a gimmick…!!

Shilpi Tandon
Shilpi Tandon