Getting Indore's roads to play a double role

An Indore engineer has solved the problem of waterlogging in the city's slums by building sloping roads that lead excess water to the nearest nullah.

By Avinash Gupta
Published: Wednesday 30 June 1993

-- MAKING slums livable is not an easy task, especially when governments have little money to spend on them. But that is precisely what engineer Himanshu Parikh is trying to achieve in Indore.

Parikh's task is to design the infrastructure for the Indore Habitat Improvement Project, which is aimed at upgrading roads and sewers in the city's slum areas. Parikh found that a large number of slums were located in low-lying areas that get waterlogged regularly. To overcome this problem, Parikh has built roads that run through the slums below the ground level to act as drains. The slum roads are provided a slope that serves to direct rainwater to the nearest nullah.

Where waterlogging is expected to be high enough to erode the road and flood nearby huts, underground pipes will carry away the excess water. The present roads are built on raised embankments that disrupt the drainage channels and increase waterlogging. A recent visit to some slums in Indore found a noticeable lack of waterlogging despite a sharp shower the day before.

Parikh has also used his natural drainage system to improve Indore's sewage system. Sewers are usually aligned with roads. The main sewer line in Indore runs along the river, which flows through the city. Tributaries to the main sewer line, now under construction, also follow the drainage paths. All huts in slums are connected to these tributary sewers. Parikh says, "The sewage system and the treatment plant are expected to cost a mere Rs 13 crore; the conventional design would have cost Rs 100 crore."

Parikh argues, "It is fesible to adopt a similar approach in other river-based town. Historically many towns in India have come up where there si good drainage system. Similar characterstics exist in Vijayawada and Vadodara. Other towns for which data is available broadly conform to the pattern noticed at Indore."

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