Every monsoon, the city of Jaipur gets inundated in spite of ambitious projects like the Smart City Mission. This is due to several reasons - from archaic drainage systems to heavy downpours. Read on to find out more.
Every year during the monsoon season, torrential rains tend to drown Jaipur. The city faces water-logging despite the implementation of Smart Cities Mission.
The objective of this mission, which was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015, was to develop cities with good infrastructure and ensure quality of life for its citizens through “smart” solutions.
However, the main reason for this is not just heavy rains. In the last four decades (1981 onwards), the issue seems to have aggravated because of numerous reasons.
1 - Construction in catchment areas
The Ramgarh lake has been one of the primary sources of water for Jaipur since 1931. The lake once had so much water that the 1982 Asian Games rowing championships were held there. But now, it lies completely dried up as a result of unprecedented construction activities in catchment areas.
The completely dried up Ramgarh lake and dam (Image credit:The Hindu)
2 - Land mafias and regularised construction
Post 1981, when the Nala dams were washed away, land mafias grabbed huge pieces of land on the dry riverbed. Later, encroachments on the riverbed were regularised by the then-state government, which eventually led to more and more infrastructural activities.
3 - Jaipur metro
The Jaipur Metro runs parallel to drainage tunnels and has damaged the ancient systems to an extent. As per experts, the new metro construction has not respected the old drainage systems which in turn has been leading to multiple drainage issues.
Underground construction activities for the Jaipur metro, have not respected the old drainage systems, which has further aggravated the drainage issues (Image credit: The Metro Rail Guy)
4 - Shops with basements
The presence of shops and stores in basements is another hindrance since it keeps obstructing the underground drainage system.
Majority of the shops and stores in Jaipur have a basement, which obstructs the underground drainage system (Image credit: Pink CIty Properties)
5 - Encroachment by vendors
Mushrooming encroachments along drainage lines also increase clogging as vendors tend to dump solid waste in the drains.
6 - Rising levels of roads and layers of tarmac
Due to the multiple layers of tarmac on roads, the altitude of roads is rising in certain areas. And, when it rains, the water generally seeps down to the low lying areas to cause floods.
7 - Deforestation in the Aravalli hills
Besides razing down trees and hills for limestone, unplanned settlements are springing up in the outskirts of Jaipur which were actually meant for waterways.
Excessive mining activites and deforestation in the Aravallis has led to unplanned settlements, which were actually meant for waterways (Image credit: Down to Earth)
8 - Breeding ground for mosquitoes
In the absence of proper drainage systems, every time it rains, puddles of water get formed. They take days to dry and therefore act as breeding grounds for mosquitoes, often causing diseases like malaria and dengue among people.
Many inferences can be drawn based on the above trends:
Before the 1981 floods there were no major instances of flooding or waterlogging in Jaipur. This indicates the effectiveness of the older drainage systems.
With the rampant increase in population, a lot of man-made reasons like irresponsible development projects and subsequent encroachments began adding to the drainage woes in Jaipur.
The COVID-19 pandemic further worsened the condition of drains in the city. The lockdowns coincided with monsoon seasons and induced massive delays in cleaning and blockages in drains and potholes.
The silver lining amidst all this is that the government is taking measures to resolve the problem.
The Dravyavati River Rejuvenation Project, taken up by the Jaipur Development Authority (JDA), is working to revive receding groundwater and is also planning to take up steps to prevent flooding.
In addition to this, the area based development proposals of the Smart City mission suggests the rehabilitation of old sewer lines in the walled city region through trenchless technology (an underground construction technology that uses new methods to enhance infrastructure, without causing any disturbance to the lives of people).
The way ahead
Though Jaipur is a well planned city, it is staring at innumerable drainage-related issues, as a consequence of human interferences and degradation of traditional drainage systems.
Apart from government proposals and missions, some of the most effective ways to deal with this is by instilling more civic sense and encouraging better community participation among citizens.
Edited by Roshni Shroff
Some resources and links to help you learn more about the drainage issues in Jaipur: