The life of about 3000 people is in danger in the state capital, who are residing in 42 old and rickety buildings despite their being declared risky (girasu) by the Dehradun Municipal Corporation in 2005.
Dehradun lies in the high-damage seismic zone. The state had felt strong aftershocks of the recent Nepal earthquake, refreshing fears of the 2013 catastrophe in the state.
However, the corporation officials denied that they had been lax in getting the risky buildings vacated and demolished even in 10 years. They said that the corporation had already served demolition notices on the owners. But, since there had been many ongoing cases in the court, the corporation had been helpless in carrying out the demolitions.
City mayor Vinod Chamoli said there were about 10 cases where the owners had moved court against the Dehradun Municipal Corporation after they were issued notices. Many other cases related to ownership and tenancy disputes, he said.
According to the DMC figures, many of the 42 buildings are over 100 years old. One of them at Connaught Place on Chakrata Road has around 90 houses and shops.
According to the residents’ association, at least 250 families ( 5 members in a family) alone reside in it and the rest in the remaining 41 buildings. According to a rough estimate, the total number of people living in all the 42 buildings is 3000. However, the municipal corporation has no figures in this regard. The Connaught Place building had been declared risky by three surveys conducted by the public works department, experts of Pantnagar University and the Dehradun Municipal Corporation (DMC).
According to reports, there are at least 53 partially-demolished structures on the Chakrata Road, which have been declared a threat to public life by the Disaster Mitigation and Management Centre’s 2012 report, titled ‘Implication of Chakrata Road widening efforts’.
The report mentions that the demolition authority didn’t carry out the road widening work systematically which “led to development of major cracks enhancing their structural vulnerability.” The road widening of a 300-metre stretch was carried out on either side of Chakrata Road (starting from Clock Tower) in December 2011.
Municipal engineer AP Sundriyal said such buildings were a threat to public safety and needed immediate demolition.
However, sources said there hadn’t been much action on part of the DMC in bringing down the risky structures. Sources said that the civic body has demolished only three dilapidated/partially damaged buildings in the past five years, one each near Hanuman Chowk, Khurbura and Salawala areas.
Senior Lalhibagh corporator Sushil Gupta the civic body should “chalk out an immediate strategy” to deal with such cases. A majority of old buildings fall in his ward. He said it was a matter of public safety and the civic body should try to build a consensus between the owners and the residents and carry out demolitions accordingly.