Mock drills may teach Delhiites how to deal with natural disasters such as earthquakes. But what is the need of the hour is focus on illegal construction that has snuffed out so many innocent lives.
On Tuesday, five children died after a boundary wall came crashing down on them. This is the third case of structural collapse due to illegal construction in 10 days, highlighting how civic authorities have failed to curb illegal construction in the city.
While in Tuesday's incident, the civic agency — East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) — was responsible for the inaction, Delhi government's revenue department, as the land owing agency, should have informed the Delhi Police and EDMC about the illegal construction.
Instead of rectifying errors, they are now busy playing the blame game. And what is worth noting is that there are only 52 structural experts for the entire city.
East Delhi is bearing the brunt of the civic agencies apathy. When the Municipal Corporation of Delhi was being trifurcated, tall claims of improvement in the situation were made. But eight months into the new organisation, nothing has changed.
On December 11, four labourers were injured when a three-storey building in Geeta Colony collapsed. According to officials, substandard raw material was used in its construction. Also, the owner had not sought any permission for the construction.
The fact that nearly 40 cases of unauthorised construction are reported every week has done little to spur civic agencies into action.
Nearly two years ago, a building collapse in east Delhi's Lalita Park claimed 72 lives. But hardly any of the area's structurally weak buildings were sealed.
"How can they not be aware of an illegally constructed wall in the area? Even if a resident tries to repair the main gate, the police and the civic agency engineers harass us and want us to show them permission letters," said Amrit Kumar, a resident of New Ashok Nagar in east Delhi.
People also say that builder mafia is active in east Delhi, where small plots that used to house a single storey are being quickly turned into multi-storied buildings without permission. Moreover, the material used in construction is sub-standard and security norms are flouted with élan.