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First there was flood, now there is a flood of accusations

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By Sidharth Mishra

Delhi after a very long time faced floods, though the Yamuna River routinely crosses the danger mark every year. The floods were largely on account of laxity on the part of people responsible for preventing the entry of water in the city. When there is human error, there always is scope for blame games.

So one can say, first there was flood in the river and now there is a flood of accusations floating around. Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena in a letter to the Chief Minister has said that a hydrographic profile of how far the Yamuna’s width, depth and the height can reach when excess water is released in it should be done. Excess water up to approximately 10 lakh cusec can be released from Hathni Kund in Haryana in future.

In the same letter the L-G has called the recent flood a ‘manageable exigency’ which could not be contained as sustainable desilting/dredging has been pending for the last 10 years. Delhi Water Minister Saurabh Bhardwaj immediately countered the letter saying that Saxena was responsible for the floods as the latter had directed an “innovative method called partial gravitational desilting” of drains which caused huge quantities of silt to be deposited in the Yamuna riverbed.

He claimed these projects worth several crores were unscientific and illegal, and were not approved by the Minister. “Various desilting and drain/riverbed cleaning projects were being executed under the direction of the L-G without sharing any details with the Minister and the elected Government of Delhi,” Bhardwaj has alleged.

Now how do these charges and counter-charges help prevention of floods in the national Capital? While the Minister is very visceral in his counter, he could have addressed the issue on merit. What the Minister has overlooked is that the L-G has made certain very legitimate recommendations.

The first recommendation is that the Yamuna River stream flowing through Delhi must be assigned to one department and that all the pumping installations at regulator locations be handed over to a single department. This would enhance operational and maintenance efficiency, the letter says and adds that in addition to this, coordinated action by the CPWD and PWD was needed to ensure hassle-free drainage from Rajghat and the Samadhi complex. Where is the scope to cry wolf on these points, Mr Minister.

The L-G has also ticked the central agencies for the rampant building of bridges over Yamuna. He has suggested that when a no-objection certificate is given by various agencies for construction of bridges, the requirement of minimum obstruction inside the river course must be ensured.

The Minister probably did not read the letter in detail, otherwise in his statement he would not have blamed the L-G of not mentioning that various obstructions in river Yamuna that have been created by Central agencies in the name of various road/railway construction projects like the RRTS. 

The floods hopefully are over now with a receding monsoon. The derailment which the floods caused to the daily life of a Delhi’ite is something which should not be fought over. It’s something which could be thought over.

Since the L-G in protocol is higher to the Minister, he could have simply met Saxena and pointed out to him wherever he felt that justice had not been done to Delhi government, which has been elected by the people to essentially discharge these responsibilities.

Floods showed that governance needed much more than the press statements, photo ops, putting up hoardings and insertion of advertisements. Governance is also about taking criticism in good stead. Rancorous counters would never build the environment for collective governance.

The L-G’s pivotal role in the governance of the city has been furthered strengthened by recent legislations. Mature politics on the part of the Chief Minister and his colleagues calls for recognising the arrangement and work together for the benefit of the people.      

(TFirst Published in The Morning Standard)


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