Delhi: Waterlogging under Minto Bridge a nagging problem for decades

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Published: July 20, 2020 1:50 PM

Every monsoon, year after year, a public bus or a private vehicle stuck on the inundated road makes headlines, as do the rescue operations that follow.

On Sunday, hashtag #MintoBridge was trending on Twitter.On Sunday, hashtag #MintoBridge was trending on Twitter.

Almost every monsoon for the last decade or so, an old black and white photo of passengers being rescued from a nearly-submerged DTC bus under the iconic Minto Bridge goes viral on social media.

Reason, its stark similarity to the situation every year under the nearly 90-year-old bridge post heavy rainfall in Delhi.

The waterlogging under the colonial-era bridge has again come into sharp focus after a 56-year-old driver of a mini-truck died allegedly due to drowning there on Sunday following a heavy downpour in the morning.

The man, identified as Kundan Kumar, was a resident of Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand. He was driving a Tata Ace from the New Delhi Railway Station to Connaught Place when his vehicle got stuck in the waterlogged area, police said.

Every monsoon, year after year, a public bus or a private vehicle stuck on the inundated road makes headlines, as do the rescue operations that follow.

An old photo of the Minto Bridge from a few decades ago, showing stranded passengers in a nearly submerged DTC bus being pulled up by people perched on the edge of the railway bridge is widely circulated on social media every time such incidents are reported in the media.

The other monochrome image of 1990, often circulated in the wake of waterlogging under this bridge, is that of a nearly-submerged DTC bus on Minto Road and a group of people watching from the bridge above.

On Sunday, hashtag #MintoBridge was trending on Twitter.

Twitter user @IAmMayank_ posted the 1990 photograph with a comment: “From 1990 to 2020 #MintoBridge maintains it’s legacy”.

Another Twitter user @Jograjkumbhar1 posted the photo juxtaposed with one taken in July 2013 and said, “Same place different years same story. The Government is spending crores in the name of Road transportation and drainage still these area are not changing. #MintoBridge.”

Two years ago, a leading Hindi daily carried this image and juxtaposed it with those taken in the monsoon of 2013 and 2018.

Except the fading of the once-glorious bridge, the picture of standard-floor DTC bus in the 1990 photograph and low-floor buses seen in the other two colour images, the picture painted a sorry state of civic affairs that relented over nearly three decades.

The famous bridge, a brick masonry structure of 1930s named after former Viceroy of India Lord Minto was built as part of the new imperial capital of the British Raj.

Minto Road, which passes beneath the bridge, connects Connaught Place to the New Delhi Railway Station (Ajmeri Gate side).

Sunday’s incident triggered a blame game in the political circles.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said it was not the time for a blame game over waterlogging in parts of Delhi as all agencies had been busy combating the coronavirus.

His comments came after the BJP alleged that the first spell of rains had “exposed” the AAP government’s preparations.

North Delhi Mayor Jai Prakash said the same situation happened year after year and “the picture literally doesn’t change”.

According to Delhi-based historian and author Swapna Liddle, the issue of waterlogging has brought a “sense of notoriety to a rather historic bridge”.

“I have seen it from the late 80s and 90s, and waterlogging is a pestering issue, but the government must find a way to resolve it,” she said.

“Keeping it like that makes the landmark look in bad light, which should not be the case,” she said.

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