WASA to make city rainwater free?

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Uninterrupted rains, which always change the city into a swimming pool during monsoon, are soon to be no problem for the people, as a mega plan is afoot to keep the city free from water accumulations even if the city is lashed out by maximum millimetres rain, Pakistan Today has learnt.
The Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA) and Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA) are behind the billion of rupees plan, which is now going to proceed from the theoretical stage to the practical level. JICA is set to submit a study plan to the Punjab Planning and Development Department to execute the project.
With launch of the plan, WASA Deputy Managing Director (DMD) Operation Iqtidar Shah said that rainwater, which inundates roads and low-laying areas in routine days, would be released within minutes through a new network of storm water drains designed to be separately laid down from the existing sewerage system.
He said that the Punjab government had shown its keen consent to put the project in play at the earliest. Iqtidar said that it would take three to four years to lay down the much-awaited plan in totality. In the first phase, only Central Lahore will benefit, he added. “Last year, the project cost Rs 40 billion and with the passage of time, the cost would keep rising and it is expected that it would touch the figure of Rs 52 to 60 billion,” another senior official told Pakistan Today.
He said that the city received 120 milimetres rain during the second spell of monsoon this year and WASA drained out water within 20 minutes to 2.5 hours against 40 minutes to 4 hours during last year in different areas. The water stagnation time could be minimised more with installation of the new sewerage and drainage system utilising the proposed money, he added.
JICA has conducted an extensive study to get rid of water inundation. Under the long-term strategy, JICA proposed Rs 40 billion to change the entire sewerage and drainage system of the southern and central parts of the city, the most critical areas, which always submerge during monsoon. Central Lahore includes Lakshmi Chowk, GPO, Egerton Road, Cooper Road, Bashir Sons, Rehman Gallian, Ek Moria Pul, Lytton Road, Plaza Cinema, Nabha Road, Church Road, Mozang Road, Shadman, Shah Jamal, Waris Road, Galaxy Plaza, Park Lane Road, Chauburji, Lake Road, PU Ground, HCC, Riwaz Garden, Sandha Road, Fazila Colony, SSP Office and Dev Samaj Road.
South Lahore features Gulberg, Faisal Town, Model Town, Johar Town, Township, Allama Iqbal Town, Firdous Market, Kalma Chowk, Central Point, Gari Shahu, Muhammad Nagar, Bibi Pak Daman, Empress Road, Railway Station, Akbar Chowk, Hussain Chowk, Barket Market, L-Block Gulberg, Tipu Block Garden Town, Model Town Link Road and Mini Market Gulberg.
WASA Managing Director (MD) Javed Iqbal said that the new system would install a big Reinforce Cemented Concrete (RCC) Conduce (a large room which was 16 feet wide and 11 feet long and built on 35 feet below the surface) and 72 inches pipes would be laid down to link the main drains. He said that WASA identified 30 critical points that suffer water accumulation during monsoon. Having revamped the existing system, the water staying time had been reduced to minimum 20 minutes and maximum 2.5 hours in various localities, he added.
Iqbal said that water accumulation would be minimised but termed people’s wish as irrational that after heavy rain, every single drop of water would be flushed out. PSO to the CM, Khawaja Imran Raza said that people had a long-standing demand of getting rid of accretion of water. Although there are some budgetary constraints, but the plan were on anvil to overcome the issue, he said.
WASA Headquarters official Shakeel Ahmed Kashmiri said that all 12 main disposal stations and 63 lift stations assisted by generators had been activated to remove water. He said that WASA launched the monsoon plan on June 15 just to ensure workability of all areas and put them on high alert. Kashmiri said that WASA continued monitoring 30 sensitive points, including Lakshmi Chowk, Thorton Road, Empress Road, Cooper Road, Bashir Sons, General Post Office, Egerton Road, Rehman Gallian, Plaza Cinema, Nabah Road, Firdous Market, Chuburji, Lake Road, Ek Moria Pull, Do Moria Pull, Raheem Road, Aziz Road, Umerdin Road, Chowk Nakhuda, Sheran Wala Gate, Outside Bhatti Gate, Baghchi Sathan, Scheme More AIT, Bahawalpur Road, Poonch Road near Multan Road, Lytton Road and Church Road.
He said that WASA carried out de-silting operation in 9 primary drains (79.33 kilometres) including Sukh Nehr Drain, Choota Ravi Drain, Cantonment Drain, Sattu Katla Drain, Allama Iqbal Town Drain, Shahdara Drain and Lakshami Drain, 70 secondary drains, 119.66 kilometres and 67 drains, 114.67 kilometres in the city. Around 6,300 kilometres long sewers, including trunk sewer and lateral streets sewers have been emptied out from mounds of silt to allow storm water run smoothly during rain. WASA has also enhanced the capacity of 12 disposal stations and 88 lift stations to discharge rainwater at the earliest.
Around 543 dewatering sets were operational, he added. WASA official Imtiaz Ahmed said that unplanned urbanisation played havoc. “The city continued to widen its boundaries without any proper planning while population also increased by leaps and bounds. So much so, residential localities kept on converting into commercial areas with rapid pace. With wild changes in the physical infrastructure, we need to revise the sewerage and drainage system as per new demands,” he added.
“If we really want to get rid of monsoon miseries, the Punjab government needs to invest billion of rupees to replace the old sewerage and drainage network with a new one corresponding to meet our present requirement,” Imtiaz said. He said that although it looked impossible to carry out this operation but the Punjab government had no option but to dig up the entire the city. He said no that miracle could dry Lakshami Chowk after a rain. Efforts could be made to reduce the time it takes to drain rainwater, Imtiaz said. He said that Lahore had a flat topography with a mild south-western slope towards the Ravi River. Lahore drainage was planned towards the north, against this natural slope, the WASA official said.