Flooding on busy roads and in various localities in the twin cities of Hubballi-Dharwad during the recent spell of rain rocked the monthly council meeting of Hubballi-Dharwad Municipal Corporation in Dharwad on Friday as upset councillors cutting across party lines made no attempt to hide their displeasure.
Starting from the former Mayor and senior councillor of BJP Veeranna Savadi, who raised the issue during the council meeting, several council members from different parties vented their ire against the municipal officials for their failure to tackle the recurring problem.
Mr. Savadi said that half of Hubballi was water-logged due to the recent rainfall and rainwater mixed with sewage entered several low-lying areas giving sleepless nights to the citizens.
The failure to remove silt from the storm-water drains and clean the drains well in advance were the root cause of the problem, he said.
Councillor from Dharwad Vijayanand Shetty, referring to the recent flooding in Bhavikatti Plot, said that the area was water-logged for almost three days. He said that the residents were forced to spend sleepless nights as along with rainwater and sewage, snakes, scorpions and other creatures entered their houses.
Hubballi councillor Shivu Menasinakai raised the recurring problem of flooding at Tulajabhavani Circle in Hubballi and said that residents had a difficult time removing silt that had entered their houses during the flooding.
Joining them, several other councillors expressed their displeasure over the lack of preparedness by the municipal authorities ahead of the monsoon. They pointed that despite having prior knowledge of the recurring issues, the municipal corporation is yet to set up emergency teams to address the contingencies.
The collapse of retaining walls of storm-water drain in Ward No 60 was also raised during the meeting. A few councillors suggested setting up a helpline and keeping relief teams ready to attend to any rain-related problem. Referring to water stagnating in some localities, they asked officials to take precautionary measures to prevent outbreak of any epidemic.
Responding to their complaints and suggestions, Municipal Commissioner B. Gopalkrishna acknowledged the problems caused due to the sudden downpour and clarified that two days ago they had set up a task force to address the issue.
This apart, ₹6 lakh had been released to each zone for removing silt from storm-water drains and also choked drains. An emergency response team will also be formed to tackle monsoon woes, he said.
He said that fogging will be carried out from Saturday in all wards to contain the menace of mosquitoes.
Issuing a ruling on the issue, Mayor Iresh Anchatgeri ordered that in case of continuation of rain woes, the zonal official concerned will be held responsible. He also said that the funds for removing silt will be hiked from ₹6 lakh to ₹10 lakh. Any structure built illegally over storm-water drains will be demolished, he said.
During the discussion on other issues, Mr. Anchatageri announced that health insurance scheme of ₹5 lakh for municipal employees and journalists will be introduced. He also announced setting up of ward committees comprising 10 members each before August 15.
Meanwhile, convenor of Hubballi-Dharwad Ward Samiti Balaga Lingaraj Shettar has expressed happiness over the decision of the council to form ward committees. He has in a release said that the move will help ensure the active involvement of citizens in the development of the twin cities.