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October 28, 2012

‘Covering drains is a worse move’

New Delhi: DDA has been on a drain covering spree, but UTTIPEC says space utilization has been the worst. Instead, developing it aesthetically, treating the sewage and creating cycling and walking paths along the drains would be a much better approach. 
    “Covering drains opens up some space and covers up an eyesore, but a better utilization would actually happen if the sewage was treated. Once the drain is covered up, the civic agencies are likely to forget about the problem. Also, sewage undergoes natural treatment through sunlight and aeration in an open drain. Once it is covered, the chances of it raising a stink actually go up,” said UTTIPEC director Ashok Bhattacharjee. 
    UTTIPEC's Non-Motorized Transportation Eco Corridor plan says, “Concrete slab effectively stops groundwater recharge and the slab cover over the nullah shall aggravate the ‘heat island’ effect.” Water has a natural cooling effect on its surroundings: an advantage that will be lost during Delhi's searing summer. 
    The project also says desilting the drains once they are covered would become an expensive and cumbersome task. Such cleaning, it says, will “require super suction machines” since cranes etc would no longer be able to access the sewage. “The sewage shall be deprived of sunlight and oxygen, creating septic conditions, increase the river's pollution load,” it adds. 
    Officials suggest the sew
age should be treated and the channel reused as a parkway. “Instead of making everything into a concrete jungle, the area could be developed as a green belt and a linking route for NMT users from one public transport point to another,” said a source. 
    The Defence Colony drain, on which work is still on, has left residents quite unhappy. “Since work on covering the drain has started, sewage has started backflowing in our bathrooms. The stench has also increased,” said AP Singh, a resident. 

Implications of covering drains 

  • Environmentally bad decision as the problem gets 'out of sight out of mind' and situation worsens 
  • The concrete slab effectively stops groundwater recharge 
  • The slab cover over the nullah shall aggravate the ‘heat island’ effect 
  • The siltation in the drain shall become difficult and more expensive to manage and would require specialized super suction machines 
  • The sewage being carried by the drain shall be deprived of sunlight and oxygen, creating septic conditions and effectively increase the pollution load on the river.
Source: Times of India (28 Oct 2012, pg 4) 

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