It’s a wakeup call to all citizens to take the civic administration by its horns to ensure a safer monsoon of 2020.
Here’s why and what you should do.
On Wednesday evening, I was stuck in traffic for nearly 1.5 hours due to a short spell of torrential rains that flooded roads and brought down innumerable trees all within a few minutes.
Hundreds of thousands of Puneites suffered the same torment.
This scenario has repeated several times during this monsoon, posing a threat to citizens and property. Agreed, climate change has stirred frequency of cloud bursts and triggered heavy to very heavy rains, however, the civic authorities lack of responsibility and vested interests have led to illegal encroachments and building violations besides shabby drainage and storm water drainage systems in the city.
Why do we need to fight this injustice and assault on our lives and property?
Simply because, each one of us is adversely affected and fear has set in within our hearts and minds that we may just be washed off like our brothers Victor and Saleem, while being caught in the rains!
How frightening is that? I tweeted that `@Honest, Common Citizen of India Vinita Deshmukh: When it rained in Pune we relished pakodas and piping hot tea; rushed to see waters in Khadakwasla and mist on Sinhagad Fort. Now, it is only fear and chaos due to water logging in this smart city. Huh!’’
You need to fight because, the almost instant flooding of practically every neighbourhood in the city, is almost always due to absence or pathetic designing of storm water drains, roads and sewage covers.
Did you know that sewage covers that you see on roadsides and footpaths should have all the holes open so that accumulation of any rain water is quickly assimilated through them? However, most of them, pointed civic activist Sarang Yadvadkar who’s fighting a courageous battle against PMC in the National Green Tribunal says that there are just one or two holes open and the rest are closed. Also, their designing is defective as the holes narrow down like a cone below instead of having the same circumference as can be seen from the top.
And the biggest joke – so many of them are on footpaths so the water clogging has to reach upto that level and more for it to be drained through these covers.
So, what can you do? Check out if there are such faulty sewage covers, take photographs, send a complaint to the PMC and follow it up. Always work in a group so that it is hard for the PMC to thwart your efforts. This would control water logging on roads. Of course, get your corporator involved.
Did you know that plastic litter, despite most of us carrying paper or cloth bags, is still a big menace?
This litter, left on the roadsides finds it way to nullahs and pipes that form amaze in the lanes and streets of all neighbourhoods. So, when it rains, they are the first ones to push through these channels, obstructing water to reach the rivers. Thus, occurs large scale flooding within minutes of the rains. So, what can you do? Every month and particularly three to four months before the monsoons, meet or write a letter to the ward officer to clean all the choked pipelines and nullahs and stagnant water areas.
Do this as a group in your neighbourhood and make it a point to meet the ward officer once a week, to give you the weekly report of the de-clogging that they have undertaken. Of course, get your corporator involved.
Did you know that your housing society is possibly standing on a nullah or a stream which has been cemented so that your building comes up.
All you residents of such housing societies which has witnessed flooding in their parking lots, going up to even the first floor, should immediately write to the PMC, as to what action it is going to take, to ensure that flooding is minimized in the monsoons of 2020? Write a letter, meet the city engineer and ask him to give his action plan on the PMC letterhead and keep reminding him oncea week. Of course, get your corporator involved.
Did you know that being a smart city, one of its promises was that intelligence systems would be put in such a way that a citizen from one corner of the city knows of any information or warning in the other side of the city.
However, citizens are caught unawares during torrential rains of roads that have traffic jams or those that are flooding and it is dangerous for citizens to venture there. Citizens in all neighbourhoods should form groups and write to Municipal Commissioner, PMC, to ask him the deadline within which he would be installing the intelligent systems.
Also request him to put on the PMC website, information on where citizens should not venture during rains.
I don’t believe that citizens should only go out on streets and start sweeping roads and removing litter from the rivers. The civic body is primarily responsible for ensuring safety for citizens through scientifically done public amenities and infrastructural works.
It has to be made accountable as it is running on the tax payers’ money. So, let us all come together in various groups of neighbourhoods and make it work so that we have less fear in the monsoons of 2020.
#All views expressed in this column are those of the author and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to them.
That's Vinita Deshmukh, Senior journalist and RTI activist who believes in journalism that reflects the views and needs of the common man.
Get Real And Stay Relevant says Vinita,