Varanasi Floods Waiting for New Storm Water Drainage System

While the city of Varanasi, Utter Pradesh, India, still awaits the completion of its new storm drainage system, heavy monsoon rain over the last 48 hours has left wide areas of the city under water.

Flooded roads in Varanasi. Photo: tapan_dalai @ twitter.com
Flooded roads in Varanasi. Photo: tapan_dalai @ twitter.com

As much as 110 mm of rain fell in some parts of the city in the 24 hours between Thursday 17 July and Friday 18 July 2014. Roads and houses were flooded, particularly the low lying areas of Mahmoorganj, Ravindrapuri, Sunderpur, Nagwa and Lanka. One social media comment complained: “60% of roads under water after just 1 night of rain”.

The heavy rain also pushed up levels of the Ganges by around 20cm, but still well below flood stage.

Varanasi was promised a new storm water drainage system 8 years ago. In 2008 the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) ( http://jnnurm.nic.in/cdp-of-varanasi.html ) project was finally given approval. Earlier this year, project managers said the project as 95% complete and should be finished by November this year. Sadly, that means many Varanasi locals will have to endure more monsoon floods while the city’s current drainage system – built back in 1827 by the British – continues to fail.

It’s not simply the age of the current drainage system. It is also lack of maintenance. According to the Times of India:

Municipal commissioner Umakant Tripathi had earlier claimed that all drains would be cleaned by June 12-13 and silt would be removed from the roads. However, in most of the localities the drains are yet to be cleared and silt lying on roads has not been disposed yet.

The storm drainage project is separate to the city’s new sewerage system, which is yet another JNNURM project still awaiting completion. The new drainage system was supposed to have been completed by 2011 at a cost of Rs 191.62 crore . Costs and completion dates have long since been revised. The current budget is Rs 252.73 crore and as mentioned above, expected completion is end of 2014.

Flooded streets in Varanasi, 2001.  Photo:  Miran Rijavec Stan Dalone
Flooded streets in Varanasi, 2001. Photo: Miran Rijavec Stan Dalone

Photo Credits 1, 2