Are Hyderabad’s roads ready for the rains this year? Here’s the lowdown

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Hyderabad

“It has been like this for months now. We have filed complaints with the municipal body many times, but nobody fixes it,” says a worried Parvathi, as she looks on at a large stagnating pool of water in front of her house in Secunderabad’s Sainikpuri area.

“Sometimes, it just stays here for days, until the sun dries it up. I don’t know what will happen once the rains start,” she adds.

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) predicted on Monday, that the southwest monsoon is likely to break over Kerala on Tuesday.

The normal monsoon onset over Kerala is June 1, but the IMD has predicted early showers this year.

This would imply that Hyderabad, too, would receive the monsoon within the next two weeks.

However, the residents of Sainikpuri, Safilguda, Neredmet and Defence Colony doubt if their roads would even survive the monsoon, thanks to the never-ending, multi-crore, Telangana Water Grid project, for which work has been going on since 2014.

Roads always waterlogged

“Even a light drizzle is enough to completely fill the road up with water. This slowly erodes the road over days. Before you know it, this is what we’re left with,” says a local resident at Defence Colony, as he points to a large pool of water on an arterial road.

The digging and pipeline laying work for these roads falls under the Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWSSB), while repairing and maintaining the roads comes under the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC).

With works getting delayed, and a lack of coordination between the two bodies, it is the citizens that continue to suffer.

However, this is just one example of many in Hyderabad, where roads are in dire need of repairs, and have to be fixed before monsoon showers hit the state.

According to reports, the situation is similar in places like Meher garden road at Uppal, Kalyanpuri colony, and several parts of Nacharam Industrial Area.

And even the “fixed” roads have issues.

Manholes spell disaster

In many cases, GHMC workers do not level the roads before they lay a fresh one, often filling the craters in the old road, and laying a new layer on top of it.

This results in the road being much higher than it initially was, leaving gaping holes for manholes every few metres, which are at least a few inches deep.

During the rains, there is every possibility that the holes will fill up with water, and be invisible to commuters, who might get severely injured.

According to reports, these manholes can be seen in several areas of the city like Koti, Panjagutta, Nampally , Ameerpet, Miyapur and Malakpet.

Are Hyderabad’s roads ready for the monsoon?

In September last year, Hyderabad was lashed with heavy rainfall that inundated several low lying areas.

While the authorities were swift in their rescue and relief operations, they did not foresee what would happen once the water receded.

Several prominent roads in the city were waterlogged, and began crumbling, with sinkholes appearing in areas like NTR Marg, right next to the Hussain Sagar.

However, a year later, not much has changed, and it looks like Hyderabad may not be able to bear the brunt of the rains this time around as well.

Stormwater drains used for sewage

“The main issue with Hyderabad is that we don’t have a proper drainage system, and no proper way for the storm water to leave the roads,” says M Veda Kumar, President, Forum for a Better Hyderabad.

Taking the example of the Asif Jah dynasty, who had also built storm water drains with an appropriate capacity, Veda Kumar points out that several stormwater lines today have been converted to sewerage lines.

“Secondly, the Hyderabad master plan does not address this issue. We need to make a better plan, that outlines all the stormwater drains in the city, and ensures that they have the capacity required to clear the roads of water,” he says.

Illegal constructions add to the woes

Veda Kumar also goes on to add, “There are also a lot of illegal layouts that have cropped up across the city. Since they are illegal, they will not have a proper underground water disposal system, and either dump everything into a lake, or a stormwater drain.”

Last year, the state government also went on a massive demolition spree to clear the city of encroachments along stormwater drains.

However, activists had pointed out that the GHMC’s demolition drive was ‘class-based’, as these houses were usually built along nalas by poorer sections of the society.

In terms of impact, activists had demanded that encroachments of tank beds and lakes, usually done by corporations or affluent citizens, needed to be cleared more urgently as they had a larger draining capacity.

“Today, we live in a concretised city, from our tar and cement roads, to our pavements, there is no place for water to escape. This is why we need to implement proper rainwater harvesting,” Veda Kumar says.

Rainwater harvesting mandatory, but rarely implemented

While the state government has already made it mandatory for construction of rainwater harvesting pits in all premises where the plot area is more than 200 square metres as per the Andhra Pradesh Water Land and Trees Act, 2002 (APWALTA), it is rarely implemented.

“If it is implemented, it will save everyone a great deal of trouble. We will see the water table get recharged, as water percolates into the ground, and sights of water flowing on the streets will gradually stop,” Veda Kumar adds.

Govt forms ‘instant repair teams’

However, the GHMC said last week, that it has taken up the road restoration work on a priority basis, and promised to complete the work before the end of the month.

Municipal Administration and Urban Development Minister (MAUD) , KT Rama Rao, has also instructed officials of all concerned departments to hold a ‘convergence meeting’ twice a month, to tackle civic issues arising from the monsoon.

Meanwhile, Minister for Road and Buildings, Tummala Nageshwar Rao announced that as many as 25 Instant Repair Teams would be formed, and provided with equipment, to swiftly carry out any minor road repairs.

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