Friday , 18 January 2019

Monsoon Is Here, So Are Problems

THE monsoon has arrived to give relief from the heat, but that is more than offset by the problems it creates owing to the unpreparedness of the government and civic bodies. The Indian Metrological Department has forecast heavy rains to continue till Thursday. Though the government and civic bodies had claimed that all pre-monsoon works had been completed their claims had been disproved by the first few days of monsoon. Along with mud, the plastic strewn all over has been washed into the drains, blocking drainage and causing water logging along roads. Before the onset of monsoon, in several places, refuse from the drains had been removed by labourers and left as small mounds on the edges of the roads. The civic body that was supposed to collect the mounds did not do its job, as a result of which with the rains the mounds were flattened and washed into the drains. In several places movement of people and vehicles has become difficult with the accumulation of water. Potholes have resurfaced with the fillings washed away.

Rains accompanied by strong winds, lightning and thunder, have led to snapping of power supply in several places. Trees have fallen in several places, causing blockage of roads. Motorists, wary of potholes in manoeuvring waterlogged parts, drive slowly, slowing down the vehicular movement. In such times the gross irresponsibility of double parking by motorists becomes even more disgusting. It takes a long time reaching the Kadamba bus stand from the city or from one end of the 18th June Road to another. The traffic police, who should have posted its men in such times as armymen are posted in civil emergencies, have proven to be even more indifferent to motorists. Traffic cops are needed on important roads to make the traffic go on smoothly. But they are not even seen in places where they used to be sometimes seen before monsoon. In other months, Goa’s traffic policemen love to watch traffic from under a tree. During monsoon, they are perhaps afraid to stand under a tree because it might fall on them. So quite a few of them find better shelters far away from where they watch the chaotic traffic.

Though the authorities know the state receives very heavy rainfall, which could begin by May end, they delay pre-monsoon works till the last moment. The delayed works are often abandoned midway as the monsoon sets in, causing grave inconvenience to people and loss of the public money spent on the works, such as desilting of drains and then letting the waste go back into the drains with the rains. Before the monsoon, overhanging branches of trees are lopped off, or dangerous trees are felled but the branches are not removed for days, if not weeks, letting dry leaves and twigs contribute to clogging of drains when the monsoon hits. It is strange to note that despite May 15 having been fixed as the last date for digging of roads, the authorities allowed digging and cutting of roads across the state, including the capital city, till the end of May ‘under special circumstances,’ a convenient excuse that made the May 15 deadline look meaningless. The repair works of the dug-up roads is also done in a shoddy manner by applying a thin coating. The roads get sunk with the arrival of monsoon and are rendered difficult to maneouvre and become accident prone.

Though the electricity department had promised that power supply would be smooth during monsoon as it had completed all pre-monsoon works, many places have been affected by power outages ranging from half an hour to several hours and for as many as 15 hours in some rural areas. The department has been putting the blame for power outages on falling of tree branches and uprooting of trees. Why did not the department get the branches lopped and the dangerous trees removed by taking forest department approval? Some areas which are perennial to flooding or water logging continue to be so despite pre-monsoon works. Why can’t the authorities draw and execute plans before monsoon to rid the areas of perennial problems? If need be, they can take the help of experts to end the problems once for all. As crores of rupees are spent on pre-monsoon works, the government should order audit of all the works and fix responsibility. The authorities should prepare a schedule for pre-monsoon works and ensure that they are undertaken as per the schedule and not just a few days before the onset of monsoon.

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