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Army help to drain water

Get set to witness a replay of 1975 — the army helping out people in the heavily waterlogged areas — though the city is not facing flood situation at present.

Thanks to the utter failure of Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC) in flushing out the waist-deep rainwater from Rajendra Nagar in the past six days, the state government has approached the Indian Army to do the same and provide respite to the residents. The state disaster management department on Tuesday sought the help of the army to demolish a small bridge near Saidpur sump house in eastern Patna to allow quick discharge of accumulated water from the Rajendra Nagar locality.

Sources claimed that army personnel would hold a meeting with the officials of PMC to chalk out strategies to drain out the excess rainwater.

The decision to seek the army’s help was taken in the wake of flooding of several low-lying areas in eastern Patna, including Kankerbagh and Rajendra Nagar, over the past six days.

The water has receded considerably on many streets in the Kankerbagh area but people had to wade through waist-level water in most parts of Rajendra Nagar even on Tuesday. R.S. Choudhary, the last serving chief town planner of Bihar who retired in August 2004, said the intervention of the army clearly exposed the failure of PMC.

“I have never seen a situation in Patna, except for the flood of 1974, when the army has been called to get rid of water-logging issue. It is a matter of shame for PMC,” said Choudhary.

Considering the prolonged waterlogging in Rajendra Nagar, one of the old localities of the city, the state disaster management and urban development and housing departments held a joint meeting on Tuesday morning.

“I was told by the officials of the urban development and housing department that the accumulated water from the Rajendra Nagar area was not flowing to the Saidpur sump house because a part of a drain under a small bridge at Sanichara Sthan had clogged. Thus, the area is still under water,” said Vyasji, the principal secretary of the state disaster management department. A source said a part of the bridge gave in a couple of years ago. A part of it has plunged into the drain, clogging it.

Vyasji said a requisition had been sent to the engineering wing of the Indian Army for making a temporary bridge at Sanichara Sthan and demolish the existing bridge.

“The officials of the urban development and housing department told me that they cannot demolish the existing bridge near the Saidpur sump house because of heavy traffic flow and commuters would face difficulties if it was demolished. Accordingly, we have asked the engineering wing of the army to make a temporary bridge first, as they are expert in making such small bridges in very little time at warfronts,” said Vyasji. “Once the new bridge comes up at Sanichara Sthan, the existing bridge would be demolished to allow smooth discharge of floodwater coming from Rajendra Nagar,” said Vyasji.

Chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi also held a review meeting on the heavy waterlogging in the Rajendra Nagar area with senior officials of the urban development and housing department and PMC late on Tuesday evening.

Senior officials in the urban development and housing department admitted very little improvement in waterlogging conditions at Rajendra Nagar on Tuesday. “All our sump houses are working round-the-clock and we have been successful in discharging excess rainwater from many streets in Kankerbagh. But the situation at Rajendra Nagar was not satisfactory despite all efforts,” said Jai Singh, joint secretary-cum-director, urban development and housing department.

Residents of Rajendra Nagar are tired of prolonged waterlogging in the area. “I don’t understand what the PMC has been doing over the past six days. Are they sleeping over our miserable conditions? This kind of prolonged waterlogging clearly shows that they were highly lackadaisical in cleaning out the drains prior to monsoon. It is a defunct body and of no help to the residents,” said Naveen Kumar, a resident of Rajendra Number road number 2.