New Delhi, Sept 3.
Delhi is becoming an increasingly unmanageable city during the rainy season, thanks to lethargic planners and an inefficient and corrupt municipal personnel responsible for upkeep and maintenance of the city’s drainage system. Multiplicity of authority in the national capital is only making things worse. The answer is a monolithic administrative system which takes control of civic services under one single authority. Till this happens, there is no way the capital city can breathe easy. Unfortunately, this is not easy in the present system of city governance and the people, therefore, appear condemned to a sub-standard living for the duration of the season—July to September-end.
A normal 30-minute rain is enough to throw the city out of gear with waterlogging on roads and underpasses and the resultant traffic chaos. Sewer lines in inundated areas choke and begin to overflow creating serious health hazard in residential colonies. The Kejriwal government trumpets its achievement day in and day out , but the situation is far removed from reality as far as city’s civic cleanliness is concerned.
Delhi’s underground sewerage system is in decay, unable to take the ever-increasing load of population. Planners did not appropriately visualize the speed and scope of expansion of the city. Outside the Lutyen Zone, there is virtual collapse of the sewerage and drainage system because of lack of timely maintenance. Private construction work by rapacious contractors easily bypass laid down norms by greasing the civic staff responsible for oversight.
There is an inbuilt recipe for disaster in many ways. Roads and streets are dug by various agencies without coordinating with each other. If a municipal team repairs a patch of road one day, the telecom provider sends its men to dig the repaired patch the other day to lay cables. The two departments do not work in sync because they are under two different authorities. Consider how many departments/agencies work for Delhi—Delhi Government, the Delhi Development Authority, the four municipal corporations, NDMC , Cantonment Board—all under control of different authorities. Additionally, there are service organizations like the telecom and electricity providers which have nothing to do with the above authorities. The result is a chaotic system of functioning with no centralized accountability. Even the PMO, the most powerful organ of the union government in Delhi, is constrained in its jurisdiction over civic matters in the national capital.
There is constant friction between the Aam Admi Party government of Arvind Kejriwal and the BJP-run municipal corporations in Delhi. Kejriwal does not have his jurisdiction even in DDA which comes under the Urban Development Ministry of the union government. The Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, who is the administrative head of the national capital, finds himself cornered by the popularly elected AAP government most of the time. Even a judicial intervention at the highest level could not sort out the administrative mess in Delhi. The panacea is to create a monolithic administrative structure for Delhi’s civic governance. For this, the Parliament may be required to enact a new law which is not easy given the nature of politics in Delhi.