After a 4-hour-long marathon review meeting for the recent floods in Patna, the Bihar Government has accepted its mistake that the drainage pump houses were not working and the drains hadn't been properly cleaned. After the meeting, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar on Monday constituted a four-member team of senior IAS officials to investigate the reasons for urban flooding in Patna after 45 years.
The committee has been formed under the chairmanship of Development Commissioner Arun Singh, Pratyayay Amrit, Principal Secretary Disaster Management Chaitanya Prasad, Principal Secretary Urban Affairs, and Amrit Lal Meena, Principal Secretary roads. The committee will submit its report within a month after investigating the reasons and the people responsible for waterlogging in Patna which affected more than 10 lakh people. In the meeting attended by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi and ministers, it was decided to suspend six sanitation inspectors of Patna Municipal Corporation while many engineers have also been served show-cause notices.
Chief secretary of Bihar Deepak Kumar said that "the pump houses were not working and also the drains were not cleaned properly. Action will be taken against irresponsible officers. Twenty new pump stations would be made available before next year's monsoon, all encroachment on drains would be freed in the next two months, drains are to be cleaned. The government is in the process of identifying more people responsible for this lapse. A four-member committee formed under the Development Commissioner, Principal Secretary Disaster Management, Principal Secretary Roads, Principal Secretary Urban will submit its report in one month. One Chief Engineer, including a total of 22 engineers have been issued show-cause notices as to why action should not be taken against them. The project manager of L&T responsible for the Namami Hange project in Patna has also been issued a show-cause notice. Officials of Patna Municipal Corporation responsible for waterlogging are being identified. Six sanitation inspectors have been suspended"
During the meeting, the Bihar CM was furious at the officers of various wings of the urban department, as per sources which further said that during the meeting, CM Nitish Kumar asked some officials as to whether the funds allocated for drainage infrastructure of Patna are being utilized properly and a proper report should be submitted to him within one month pertaining to expenditure of Patna Municipal Corporation and Bihar Urban Infrastructure Development Corporation, drainage infrastructure, as well as reasons for floods in Patna. Nitish Kumar also took to task the Bihar Urban Minister Suresh Sharma who had formed a committee of 3 people who were responsible for floods in Patna. The decision was overturned by the minister and a new committee was formed.
RJD leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui went on to say that "this meeting is a sham and govt has failed to even keep Patna clean. They talk of 15 years of RJD rule, now Nitish Kumar has also ruled Bihar for 15 years. Worst is that the BJP talks big and the Urban Development ministry is with BJP for 15 years- they have failed.
Before this, Patna had witnessed one of its worst urban flooding scenarios in 1975, but again after 45 years, waterlogging in every part of Patna exposed the existing drainage and sewerage system, and consequently, the Nitish Kumar government. Nitish Kumar may have formed a committee of senior IAS officers and suspended some small fish like sanitation inspectors and engineers but the big sharks have been spared. It is expected that some more heads would roll, both in the BUIDCO and Patna Municipal Corporation where the son of the Mayor of Patna calls the shots and the Mayor, Sita Sahu is clueless as to what is happening within the corporation.
In the days to come, it is expected that Nitish Kumar would do a major overhaul of the Urban Department and post an IAS officer with the likes of 1990-batch IAS officer KK Pathak as Principal Secretary of Urban Department. KK Pathak has earlier been Joint Secretary in Home Ministry govt of India and he may be entrusted with the job of demolishing the illegal encroachment in Patna and save the Nitish government from further embarrassment in years to come. Apart from the drainage problem, Patna needs better town planning and it needs to be addressed on priority.
Patna witnessed more than 200-220 mm rainfall for three consecutive days, which is a record in 102 years when it comes to continuous rainfall, that too in the last week of September, submerging major parts of Patna with Rajendra Nagar being the worst hit.