Greenish water is spread as far as the eye can see, lapping against sandstone headstones; a bright-pink chadar, probably placed by someone on the gravestone of a revered soul, floats about; a number of graves are damaged: This is the scene at the Panj Peeran cemetery Monday evening, four days after record-breaking rainfall submerged several parts of the Capital.

Among the places that were inundated in the floodwater was this graveyard in Nizamuddin area, situated next to the Barapullah drain. The premises are said to be 700 years old.

Syed Kashif Nizami, one of the caretakers (peer) of the graveyard, who has been working here for the last 40 years, said he has never seen such waterlogging before.

“This was the first time that we have had to encounter something like this. The water will still take many days to empty out… there are countless graves here. Graves of generations of people have been destroyed due to the floods,” said Nizami, who belongs to the silsila (order) of Sufi saint Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya.

“I have been making attempts to remove the water for the past two days now. I somehow managed to deploy two pumps that are periodically being used for the last 24 hours with a break of one hour in between for the machine to cool down… I have members of my own family buried over here… everyone who lives near this place has someone they love buried here,” says Farhad Suri, former MCD Mayor, who was seen wading through the murky water.

Festive offer

The onslaught of floodwater did not spare the trees at the cemetery either with their roots being waterlogged; broken branches could be seen floating in the water.

A number of gravestones too have shifted from their place. The boundary fence of the graveyard, which faces the Barapullah drain, is damp and bears marks from the flooding. The entry gate is encrusted with debris. Paths that once guided visitors through the cemetery are invisible.

Among the people buried at the graveyard are several from foreign countries who came to Delhi for medical treatment.

“People come here from Somalia, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, apart from other parts of the country such as Kashmir and Bihar, for treatment at AIIMS. Once their loved ones pass away, they bury them here. Since the family members live far away, there is no one

to take care of their graves

now,” says Mohammad Taha, another caretaker from the Nizamuddin silsila.

RRTS waste being dumped in Barapullah drain: Mayor Oberoi

Delhi Mayor Shelly Oberoi on Monday attributed the waterlogging in Central and South Delhi to blocked drains. She said debris from construction of Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) was being dumped in the Barapullah drain.

“I visited (several places) to investigate the waterlogging issue and it turns out that it’s due to a blockage in the drain caused by debris dumped in the drain,” Oberoi stated on X.

“I wrote to the Union Minister of Housing & Urban Affairs, requesting urgent removal of the huge amount of debris/malba in Barapullah drain due to the construction of RRTS nearby.”

Besides, in a letter to Manohar Lal Khattar, Union Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs, Oberoi wrote, “Due to this construction work, a lot of debris/malba and construction material goes to Barapullah drain, making it filthy and thereby creating obstruction in the drain.”

Meanwhile, Puneet Vats, spokesperson of the National Capital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC), which is executing the RRTS project, said, “RRTS construction at Sarai Kale Khan is in advanced stages. C&D (construction and demolition) waste is disposed of regularly in a systematic manner during RRTS construction. Subsequent to the recent unprecedented rainfall, NCRTC took proactive action to clear the drain in close coordination with the civic agencies and is providing all sorts of assistance wherever necessary. Site engineers have been advised to work in tandem with these agencies for cleaning of drain.”