Blame game continues: CM-led flood control panel failed to meet in last 2 yrs, say sources; AAP hits back
New Delhi: As the national Capital faces the floods caused by the overflowing Yamuna, Raj Niwas sources on Sunday alleged that the Apex Committee for flood control and preparedness headed by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal did not meet in the last two years.
However, the AAP government denied the charge, saying the meeting to discuss flood preparedness chaired by Delhi ministers Atishi and Saurabh Bharadwaj took place on May 9. It also said that a flood control order was issued as per the due process.
The Raj Niwas sources claimed that the flood order issued by the Delhi government was “half-baked”.
“As chairman of the Apex Committee to Review, Recommend, Supervise and Coordinate Flood Control Measures in NCT of Delhi, CM Kejriwal chose not to let the Committee’s mandatory meeting scheduled in June-end this year, despite the revenue department moving a file to this effect on June 19. Even last year, Kejriwal did not let this meeting happen,” a Raj Niwas source said.
This high-power committee chaired by the Delhi CM consists of all government ministers, Delhi MPs, four MLAs of the AAP, and chief secretary, along with other stakeholders like Delhi Development Authority, GOC-Indian Army, and member of Central Water Commission. It is scheduled to meet on any date towards the end of June, before the onset of the monsoon, to review the situation at hand and pass a “Flood Control Order” every year, the sources said. The Apex Committee takes into account the threats and projections, assesses preparedness and ensures a foolproof seamless coordination mechanism between various departments and agencies, including those from the Centre, to handle any eventuality, they added.
According to the Raj Niwas sources, the divisional commissioner, who is also the convener of the committee, requested CM Kejriwal on June 21 to suggest a suitable date and time for convening the mandatory meeting of the Apex Committee in the last week of June. The file was submitted to the CM through Revenue Minister Atishi.
The sources further claimed that the file was returned on June 26 to Atishi, with the noting that, “Honourable CM has desired that the Honourable Minister (Revenue) may convene the meeting”, of the Apex Committee, which is chaired by the CM”. “Her OSD instructed the Divisional Commissioner to have a short meeting (not the Apex Committee) for releasing the Flood Control Order 2023, on June 30 at 6.30 pm in her conference room with principal secretary (irrigation and flood control), DM (East) and other officials,” the source claimed.
The meeting chaired by Atishi did not have the presence of chief secretary, police commissioner, MCD commissioner, CEO of DJB and various other important stakeholders, leave apart the representatives from the CWC. This happened because Atishi “did not ask” for them to be present in the meeting, the sources alleged. The meeting subsequently happened on July 6, “after which a perfunctory half-baked flood control order was issued without taking the main stakeholders into confidence”, they said.
Denying the charges, the AAP government said it had been regularly reviewing flood and waterlogging issues in May itself. “On May 9, Irrigation and Flood Control Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj and PWD Minister Atishi jointly chaired a meeting where all departments including PWD, MCD, I&FC, DJB, DDA and NDMC were present and preparations for floods and waterlogging were reviewed,” the govt said in a statement.