Why capital's drainage system comes to a standstill when it rains?

This year, the usually burning Delhi got blessed with monsoons sooner than stated. But they also bring the various weaknesses and shortcomings of the drainage systems of such big metropolitan cities.
Why capital's drainage system comes to a standstill when it rains?

What could be more relaxing than seeing the monsoon arrive in Delhi which usually stays like a hot – humid frying pan throughout the summers? “The sooner, the better” isn’t always a favorable situation. This year, the usually burning Delhi got blessed with monsoons sooner than the stated date by Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), and that too on the same date as Mumbai.

Along with the blessings that arrive with the heavy downpours on India, they also bring into the limelight, the various weaknesses and shortcomings of the infrastructure and drainage systems of such big metropolitan cities that are a role model for every other city.

Monsoon covers Mumbai and Delhi together

This year the national capital, as well as the financial capital of India, got hit by monsoon together. Delhi got hit by monsoon two days earlier than the schedule stated but the IMD department.

As India has expanded across all its cities, the infrastructure, and buildings have grown but neither the drainage systems have paced up accordingly nor has the provision of the water supply. There stands a constant struggle to cope with rainfalls and proper drainage of this rainwater. The cities that claim to be “rain ready” gets submerged in water every year with just a handful of rain.

National and Financial Capital of India and their submergence:

Every year when it rains, the City of Delhi gets submerged in water. The national capital starts drowning with a handful of rain. This drowning of the national capital now seems like an annual affair. Thus the question arises – Why does the Nation’s capital, the city which acts like a role model for every other city in India gets submerged in water like Cotton candy? Why is there no provision for a deluge?

Whether that be the case of Delhi or Mumbai, the situation seems depressing. Every year with the arrival of the monsoon, major metropolitan cities of India face the same situation of overflowing drains, waterlogging and roads getting disrupted all through the cities. Whether that is the railways, road transport, airplanes, or normal public life, everything gets disrupted over days rain occurs leading to inconvenience for residences. 

 The irony that lies here, between the scarcity of water and then the extremely occurring floods in the same states and the same parts of the city somehow expose the poor management of various water resources “The inabilities of the National and the Financial capital of India to bear heavy downpours sheds limelight on the failure of the civic bodies of these cities and exposes their inability to work on improvement of their drainage systems as well as their political systems,” Debi Goenka, an environment activist.

What could be the possible reason?

Unfortunately, the answer to such happenings occurring, again and again, remains the same, that is –the outdated drainage systems of cities, the natural barriers being constantly disrupted against climate change, and unsustainable urbanization act as the main barriers to the capacities of various metropolitan cities of India in dealing with these heavy monsoons and climate change, almost every year.


Acting as the primary reason for this standstill in drainage systems of the prime cities of India is the inadequate infrastructure. The development of many cities of India was made with such drainage systems that were designed keeping in mind the idea of catering only to small populations and lesser intensity rainfalls, but the sudden hike in the population and the unsustainable urbanization has led to outpacing of these systems over the years making them ineffective and insufficient against heavy rainfalls.


Apart from the inefficient infrastructure, this standstill exposes the failure of the management in managing the systems of their respective cities and their lack and irregularity in the maintenance by the civic bodies. Usually, these drains face the accumulation of garbage; they sometimes accumulate debris and unnecessary wastes, which results in blockage as well as waterlogging in them, resulting in the hindrance in the proper flow of water through them.

The negligence in the proper cleanliness and maintenance of these systems has made waterlogging a very prominent and prevailing problem on streets resulting in overflow even on normal days God save the city as during times of heavy rainfalls, these cities get submerged in water completely.


The encroachment of drains that have risen due to improper planning in their construction is the main prevailing issue in Indian cities. Many drains as well as potholes stay wide open or their construction stops midway; on the other hand, several unauthorized infrastructures get built over the drains which results in the issues like waterlogging due to the restriction occurring in the smooth flow of water as their capacity to carry rainwater gets effectively reduced. The regulating bodies must be proactive and take necessary measures to prevent this mishap.


Apart from the failure of manual handling, climate change has been impactful as there are more frequent rainfalls nowadays, which are more intense as compared to previous years. This constant change in the climate is majorly responsible for the intensified rainfalls as well as the failure of cities to control them.

 The approach in these situations must be proactive rather than reactive to overcome these failures and adapt and upgrade their infrastructure to handle heavy and extreme rainfalls. With long-term proper planning and investment, and the proper building regulations such causalities can be controlled and resisted.

This standstill of drainage systems during extreme climate changes and heavy downpours will continue to remain a prevailing issue until and unless they are addressed properly by the management and government. Only through proactive behavior and collective and continuous efforts, this impact of heavy rains can be catered to. This will ensure proper and smooth functioning of drains as well as sewer lines, and enhance the development and management of all cities of India.