Day after downpour, Delhi breathes easy

New Delhi, July 21 (IANS) The Indian capital returned to its near normal self Sunday, a day after torrential downpour virtually choked the city and the bordering regions.

The traffic police reported water-logging in a few streets but the situation across Delhi improved thanks in part to the clear skies Sunday.

Civic officials blamed the very heavy rains for the widespread flooding of roads and lanes that caused innumerable traffic jams that stretched for hours Saturday.

Thousands of motorists had a harrowing time on the roads. In some places, traffic came to a virtual halt for hours after traffic lights crashed.

According to the Met office, the capital received 123 mm of rain from 11.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. Saturday. It was the heaviest rainfall in the last 10 years.

Delhi Metro, which was forced to shut two of its stations Saturday for a few hours after rain water seeped in, said its services were now normal.

"We were forced to close the entry and exit of the Malviya Nagar and Saket stations as they had knee-deep water. This is the first time we had to take such a step," an official told IANS.

Most roads were clear too Sunday. The rain water, however, swelled the Yamuna further.

The Saturday deluge uprooted trees and flooded a part of the international airport and scores of roads.

The civic agencies tried to explain why Delhi's drainage system failed to rise to the occasion Saturday though all drains had been spruced up by June 15.

"The process of desilting had been completed by June 15. But one should understand that the process of water-logging can never be wiped out as the water percolation level is very low," South Delhi Municipal Commissioner Manish Gupta told IANS.

"When unprecedented rains occur, streets will be flooded. They will gradually clear after a few hours," he said. "If there is normal rainfall, such problems don't happen."

Delhi Traffic Police said the problem of clogged drains and uprooted trees still plagued some areas.

"We have received a few traffic related complaints" from south and east Delhi, an officer said. "Thank God today is a Sunday," he added.

The municipal officials blamed the Public Works Department (PWD) for the drainage mess.

The South Delhi Municipal corporation has 1,464 drains, the north 1,179 while the east has over 1,000 storm water drains.

A PWD official said: "Yesterday there were heavy rains within a few hours. The PWD alone cannot be blamed. The drain pumps are also defunct...It will take some time."

A total of 384.5 mm of rain has been recorded in Delhi since the outbreak of the monsoon in June.

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