The state government on Wednesday admitted the failure of its own agency, Patna Municipal Corporation, in addressing the city’s waterlogging problem — costing a youth his life on Monday and leaving Rajendra Nagar residents virtually interned for seven days.
Chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi took the lead in lambasting the Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC). Chief secretary Anjani Kumar Singh also admitted the failure of the civic body in handling the situation in the high court.
Reviewing the situation of waterlogging, Manjhi tersely said: “No work is being done in PMC because of internal conflict. Thus, our people are facing difficulties. The state government had given Rs 27 crore to PMC to purchase equipment and carry out other sanitation related works in the city but it could not spend it.”
After a high-level review meeting at the state secretariat in the morning, Manjhi said: “PMC has become so callous that it could not cover the manholes on the streets, leading to the death of children.”
Sources claimed that the chief minister was referring to the death of Sonu Kumar (20) on Monday after he fell into an open drain pit beside a waterlogged road in Kankerbagh.
PMC commissioner Kuldip Narayan refused to comment on the chief minister’s scathing attack on the civic body.
“I do not have any information on what the chief minister has told the media about PMC. Even if he has said something, I am not authorised to give any comment on it,” he said.
On the Rs 27 crore released to PMC in 2007, Narayan said the funds were meant for Patna solid waste management project. “The money was to be utilised to purchase equipment for garbage removal and door-to-door waste collection. The bidding for the same is in the final stage,” he said.
The chief minister blasted the civic body on a day the entire Kankerbagh area was free from water. The water had receded from many areas in Rajendra Nagar as well.
Commissioner Narayan claimed in the evening that the excess rainwater from the remaining areas would be drained out within 24 hours.
Soon after Manjhi snubbed at the civic body, the Opposition slammed him alleging that he was making PMC a scapegoat.
“When the BJP was in the government, there used to be regular monsoon review meeting on every Wednesday from April to September. The urban development and housing department used to convene it. Apart from PMC, several other departments, including health and public health engineering department, used to attend it. But no such meetings were convened this year,” said former deputy chief minister and senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi.
The Leader of the Opposition, Nand Kishore Yadav, alleged that Manjhi was doing politics over the grave issue of waterlogging in order to hide the failure of his government.
Earlier in the day, Manjhi clarified that the help of Indian Army had been sought for making an alternative bridge on a drain at Kankerbagh on urgent basis.
“Water is not getting drained out from the Rajendra Nagar area because a small bridge over a drain has sunk in it. This, in turn, has blocked the flow of excess rainwater. Since, we do not have the mechanism for repairing the sunken bridge without obstructing the traffic flow on it, we have sought the help of the army. It would make an alternative bridge, after which the existing bridge would be demolished. A new bridge would be constructed in November-December,” said Manjhi.
The small bridge the chief minister referred to is at Sanichara Sthan in the Sandalpur area near Saidpur sump house. The PMC had earlier this week written a letter to the urban development and housing department, requesting its demolition to allow smooth discharge of accumulated rainwater from the Rajendra Nagar area.
PMC commissioner Narayan said: “Three engineers have come from Military Engineer Services (MES), Ranchi, to chalk out the strategy for the construction of the new bridge. They have done the recce of the site.”
Narayan attributed the flooding of Rajendra Nagar to the reverse flow of overflowing rainwater from Saidpur Nalah.
“The excess rainwater from Rajendra Nagar area goes to Saidpur Nalah. The excessive discharge of water caused overflooding of the Nalah near Bazaar Samiti, prompting reverse flow of water to Rajendra Nagar. We have blocked the drain leading to Saidpur Nalah at two places at Rajendra Nagar — before Bazaar Samiti and Premchand Rangshala — to allow controlled discharge of water,” said Narayan.
Narayan said the Saidpur and Jogipur Nalah should be widened to increase the discharge capacity of rainwater from Kankerbagh and Rajendra Nagar.