Hyderabad: The monsoon may be playing truant now but it is only a matter of time before the State capital gets its share of the rain pain. The ubiquitous, uncovered manholes are among the major problems the civic authorities will have to tackle in the next couple of months. However, it appears that many of the manhole covers in the city are missing! Stolen, in fact by “insensitive public”, according to officials.
“A number of manhole covers are going missing, in fact are being stolen by the insensitive public. People are waiting for an opportunity to lift them! Whenever we get complaints from the public, we immediately go and replace them,” said K Suresh Kumar, chief engineer, GHMC. Most of the thieves steal the covers to sell them as scrap. However, Suresh Kumar said new covers are made of doctile iron which does not have any resale value when compared to the earlier covers that were made of cast iron.
When contacted, Ramakrishna, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic) too admitted that a lot of the manhole covers were being stolen. “Prior to the rains, we had identified all the manholes in the city that need replacement or repair works and submitted the list to the GHMC. We have also come across some instances where missing manhole covers have posed a danger to the people,” he said.
The problem for the GHMC is lack of coordination. For example, not one officer has a list of the manholes, leave alone the ones whose covers are missing. As many as 120 complaints were received and attended to by the GHMC Central Emergency Squad-Disaster Rescue Team (CES-DRT) between June 17 and 21 when rain lashed the city but they are also unaware of the number of complaints pertaining to missing manhole covers in the city. “When we receive complaints relating to this, we just forward it to the executive engineer concerned,” said an official at the central control room. Out of the complaints received, about 73 related to water logging in different parts of the city and the rest to fallen trees.
“There are about 82,438 storm water drains catch pit manholes in the GHMC area. With about 15,000 km of road length, one could find manholes every 15-20 mts,” reasoned Suresh Kumar. According to him, GHMC has been receiving a number of complaints about missing manhole covers but he passed the blame on to the zonal engineers concerned for failing keeping the records.
He also expressed his helplessness in giving information on the list of manhole covers replaced during the last one week. The information could be had from the disaster management section, he said. The officer-in charge of the section passed the buck to the CES-DRT, the control room which receives all the monsoon related complaints from the public. “We have recorded complaints relating to water stagnation, tree felling, wall collapse etc..Other than that, complaints regarding missing manhole covers are not recorded but just forwarded to the concerned executive engineers. The number of covers taken out of the store would indicate the number of replacements made,” said an official at CES-DRT. “There are 32 executive engineers in GHMC who would have information about the ground work, it would be better to meet each of them,” advised a GHMC employee at the Central Zone, Khairatabad.
Though reports of building and wall collapse have become very common, the CES-DRT has received only one complaint regarding a wall collapse, which was filed by mayor Mohd Majid Hussain himself. “We do not have enough funds or equipment. Even if we receive emergency calls, we do not have the expertise or manpower to act upon. The 6 vehicles we have are expected to cover the entire GHMC area, which is impossible. We have discussed these issues with the mayor who in turn has assured us of taking necessary steps,” said an official.