New Delhi, August 31: The visiting Secretary of State of the United States made a statement today that might just have highlighted what is holding India from jumping from the list of third world countries to first world countries. The answer lies in fragility, the fragility of basic infrastructure available in India. John Kerry who is on an official visit to the national capital had to end his trip exactly the way he started it, stuck in a heavy traffic jam and praying that there might be some deal that the U.S could do with India to get him out of the jam. His address to the students of the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi was delayed for an hour as he could not reach the venue on time because of the immense traffic jam. This made John Kerry comment,”I don’t know how you all got here, you must have needed boats to get here.” The US Secretary of State also had to cancel his scheduled trip to three religious sites in the capital after it rained heavily. Also Read - 8-9 Children Jibe: Tejashwi Yadav Condemns Bihar CM Nitish Kumar’s Statement
Just this month Delhi has been brought to a complete standstill three times because the rains were too much to handle. The mismanagement of the issue on a large and repetitive scale can definitely be attributed to the city’s administration and the planners involvement in the development. Wednesday morning saw the people of the city having to wade through the flooded streets which were in turncaught up in heavy raffic snarls. Delhi and Gurugram on Wednesday morning woke up to heavy rains combined with traffic snarls. Not just the residents of the city but those who had to pay a visit to the national capital too were caught up in messy waters as all flights at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International airport have been delayed and one incoming flight had to be diverted to Jaipur. Also Read - Farmers Protest: Heavy Traffic Congestion at Delhi-Gurugram Border As Police Check Vehicles
So what do the authorities have to say about the state of affairs of the city they manage? Well the Delhi police seems to think it has done it bit by issuing a warning. The warning was not a request to assuage the fears of the distraught residents but rather a disciplinary statement to make residents behave while being poured down upon. In a tweet that they sent out, the police have warned people to be “patient, disciplined and stick to lanes” .However Delhi is not the only major metropolitan city to hang its head in a pool ofshame. Heavy rainfall also caused severe water logging in parts of Hyderabad too. As something of a norm now, visuals from there showed vehicles submerged in rainwater in Secunderabad. If you were thinking the authorities in Hyderabad gave a more responsible statement to those that came from Delhi, you thought wrong. The Hyderabad authorities think that the solution is stop people from venturing out and conducting their day to day activities. Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation Commissioner Janardhan Reddy today appealed to the citizens of Hyderabad not to travel in the city for another hour due to heavy rains on Wednesday.(ALSO READ: Heavy rains bring Delhi, Gurgaon to standstill; water-logging causes major traffic jam) Also Read - Kangana Ranaut Meets Sanjay Dutt in Hyderabad, Says 'He Looks Even More Healthy And Handsome'
However while comparing cities, it is Gurgaon that has experienced the worst traffic jams due to flooding caused by heavy rainfallin the past month. Many people have suggested changing the recently modified name of the city,Gurugram, once again, and this time to ‘GuruJam’. The extent of the impact that the mildly heavy rains have had on the city is such that schools and offices have now remained closed for two days . Like in the other two cities,tThe local government authorities of Gurugram are under flak for not being able to bring the situation under control. Gurugram’s situation however is indeed worse that that of the other cities as at least four people were killed, three of them when a wall collapsed in Musheerabad area. The authorities’ solution in Gurugram is just as wryly amusing as in Delhi and Hyderabad. Gurugram officials have given people the permission to reach office one hour late in the city. (ALSO READ: Delhi, Gurgaon come to a halt after heavy rainfall, all flights delayed at IGI airport)
Another major Indian city that had to face the rain of shame recently was the popular tourist city of Varanasi. After the city was hit by heavy rains, extremely filthy and contaminated sewage water entered homes of people in Varanasi on Wednesday. Mounds of dirt and disgusting piles of garbage which were not properly disposed of, hit the streets with a force after being carried away by the flood waters. The holy town was half submerged under water as the equally holy river Ganga overflowed. All Prayers and ceremonies scheduled to be performed in the Ghats of the Ganga had to be postponed. Thousands of people have been evacuated from the holy city and are now living in relief camps.
The blockage of streets due to waterlogging is generally a result the accumulation of faults in city planning and water management. The sad part is with just a little effort, the effect of the rains can be brought down immensely. What is further upsetting is that these extremely basic measures require just one tenth of the effort that is going on behind turning these very water logged cities into “smart cities”. Choked drains, blocked waterways, faulty roads, illegal and unsupervised construction and the various other faults in city planning, can easily be managed by proper administration by clearing the drains, removing blockages in waterways etc. However, despite being struck by the same forces a number of times, our civic authorities fail to learn their lesson.
What is shocking though is that, though the above report makes it look like India has been hit rains of cyclonic proportions, the fact is that the monsoon has actually been 2% below normal level. Though the meteorology department had predicted a surplus, a deficit is what we actually face. It is time the country hangs its head in shame and remove those responsible from their offices as despite the monsoon deficit a season of water logging is taking hold in several states of the country.States that are in fact deficient rainfall include, Andaman and Nicobar, most of the northeast, Kerala, Gujarat and Punjab. According to the Indian Meteorological Department, in terms of distribution, 64% of the total area in the country has got normal rainfall, while 16% has recorded deficient rainfall. About 20% has seen excess rains, the reason for the flooding. Despite this, states such as Assam, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar, have had to confront swollen rivers
The sad part is that the country has come to accept that floods are common in many parts of India even when the monsoon is normal. For now however, we Indians should be happy that the rains were below normal rather than being surplus or even normal, or else Secretary John Kerry might have asked for submarines rather than wishfully joking about boats.