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Gurgaon drowning under unplanned urbanisation

A modest amount of rainfall in Gurgaon on Thursday brought the city to a standstill with unprecedented waterlogging and extended traffic jams. It also briefly revealed the Millennium City as an urban nightmare.

Even as the administration struggles to bring normalcy back on the roads, town planners, environmental analysts and disaster management experts believe that the situation was more or less “anticipated” in the wake of the rapid unplanned urbanisation that the city has witnessed over the past decade, including encroachment o natural channels of water and water bodies.

“Though there is no perennial river in Gurgaon, the rain water in the city mostly flows through storm water drains, such as Badshahpur drain, and Shahibi and Indori rivers — originating in Jaipur — and enters Najafgarh drain before finally reaching Yamuna. But the unplanned urbanisation over the past few years has led to encroachment or hindrance in the alignment of these natural water channels. Some of them have completely disappeared. The land use has been changed and sold to builders to construct housing and commercial projects. It has led to constant problem of waterlogging. Also, the current drainage system is grossly inadequate to meet the needs of the ever growing population,” said Abhay Srivastava, head of the HIPA Centre for Disaster Management.

Discussions with retired town planners revealed that zoning of the bunds and natural water bodies for construction, instead of conservations, in the masterplans is a major problem.

Water bodies such as, ponds, johars, lowlying areas, submergence areas upstream of bunds, act as a natural sponge of rainfall and help discharge excess run off to the Yamuna.

However, all is not lost.

“The solution is simple. When we clog our blood vessels due to our careless and bad behaviour we can still save ourselves by going in for a bypass surgery. In the same way we can map and mark the water channels and wherever there is a blockage in the form of a building or road or some other construction we make bypasses for the water to reach the channel at the next point,” said Amina Sherwani, an environmental activist.

Revival of water bodies, water harvesting and the urgent need to protect Aravallis and not open them for construction are the ways out, feel the experts.

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