Just around three hours of rain on Wednesday morning threw the city into disarray, with prolonged snarls throughout the day made worse by at least five cave-ins and waterlogging on major arterial roads, leading to traffic being diverted, forming bottlenecks across the national capital. The downpour left several residential areas flooded, with the city’s agencies getting into yet another blame game, days after Delhi witnessed waterlogging after the first heavy rain spell on Sunday.
The Capital in the last four days alone has recorded 120mm of rain. IMD data shows that between July 1 and July 20, Delhi received 124.9mm rainfall. Till July 19, Delhi had a rainfall deficit of 47%, which went down to 29% till Tuesday.
In the heart of the Capital, a section of Ashoka Road caved-in, causing a 10-feet fissure, forcing Delhi traffic police to cordon the stretch off and divert traffic. Vehicles had to be stopped on the stretch between the Windsor Place and Jaswant Singh roundabouts. A New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) official said, “The area around it has been cordoned off, and an NDMC engineering team is working on site to repair the sewer line and road.”
Portions of roads also caved-in on the Mahipalpur bypass and the link road near Nawada metro station on Wednesday because of waterlogging. Traffic between Vasant Kunj and Mahipalpur was severely affected because of the cave-in on Mahipalpur bypass. The bypass is also an important connect for those travelling between Delhi and Gurugram.
According to the police, the snarls also took place due to diversions put in place after a portion of Bhairon Marg caved-in on Tuesday morning. Even before the rain started on Tuesday, during the morning peak traffic rush, vehicles were directed to take alternative routes, causing jams to cascade to Noida Link Road, Sarai Kale Khan, IP Estate, Vikas Marg, ITO, Delhi-Noida-Direct Flyway, Ashram, Mathura Road and Nizamuddin Railway Bridge. The rain made snarls worse during the day, traffic officials said.
“The cave-in on Bhairon Marg became a real problem as the stretch is already a traffic jam-prone zone because of ongoing construction. Road maintenance agencies have started pumping water out, but the portion won’t hold till the rain continues and the soil underneath dries,” a senior traffic official said.
Complaints of miles-long delays were also reported from Chirag Delhi (towards Nehru Place), Mayur Vihar Link Road, Mathura Road (near Nizamuddin railway bridge), Lajpat Nagar (Ring Road), under Uttam Nagar Metro station, Munirka (under the flyover), and outside the Karkardooma court complex.
Sunaina Parimal Das, a commuter on the Noida Link Road, said it took her over an hour to reach Patparganj from Connaught Place on Wednesday evening. “I have not been able to travel at a speeds beyond 20kmph. From ITO, throughout Vikas Marg and then on the Noida Link Road, vehicles were moving at snail’s pace,” she said.
Similar chaos was also reported from Girdhari Lal Marg, Guru Ravidass Marg, under Mayapuri flyover, under Prahladpur flyover, Dhaula Kuan (towards Gurugram), Naraina (towards Loha Mandi), Ring Road (from Sarojini Nagar to Hyatt Hotel flyover), and Mahipalpur.
The scenes of traffic jams and waterlogging in different parts of the city led to citizens posting pictures of vehicles caught in serpentine jams on the roads.
According to PWD and the civic bodies at least 63 places in the city reported waterlogging.
Just two days after severe waterlogging under central Delhi’s Minto Bridge, as a precautionary measure, Delhi’s traffic police diverted vehicles from the route for nearly an hour as water started accumulating on the road again on Wednesday after the shower. A 56-year-old man had drowned in the underpass on Sunday morning
However, while this saved vehicles from getting stuck on the Minto Road, Connaught Place was flooded with rain water, and saw vehicles crawling on the outer circle, Barakhamba Road and Mandi House roundabout.
While commuters had to brave the severe congestion, residential areas were not spared the effects of the rain, with areas such as South Extension-1, Lajpat Nagar, parts of Defence Colony, BK Dutt Colony reporting waterlogging.
In Defence Colony, for instance, water flowed back on to the streets from drains.
Satyendar Jain, Delhi PWD minister, said waterlogging incidents are being tackled effectively. “Our priority is to clear roads of waterlogging immediately and for this we have deployed 1,400 pumps all over the city. In case of high-intensity rain, there may be waterlogging on streets at certain places but I assure that it would be cleared immediately,” Jain said.
Anamika Mithilesh, mayor, SDMC, said water was pumped out immediately after rain stopped. “We have cleaned the drains, but people have started throwing garbage in the open in several places, which also causes problems,” she said.
Jai Prakash, mayor, North Delhi Municipal Corporation, said,“We have desilted our drains, but since PWD’s bigger drains are yet to be cleaned, water back flows in smaller drains and inundates residential areas and markets,” he said.
SS Singh, an urban planner and a researcher at IIT-Delhi, said lack of a proper pre-monsoon plan is the reason behind the repeat of this picture every year.
“This just shows how inept our agencies are in handling the basics of city planning. This year they might have an excuse that they were busy handling Covid-19 management, but we see roads flooded every year, what is their excuse for that?” Singh said.
Delhi traffic police in a statement said, “Additional staff was deployed to help direct traffic across the city.”