CP buildings too old to ensure structural safety, says Delhi engineers’ body
Earlier on Monday, the council suspended the four engineers for dereliction of duty resulting in the two roof collapse incidents on February 2 and 11. According to senior officials, they were responsible for monitoring the Connaught Place area.delhi Updated: Feb 18, 2017 12:33 IST
The Delhi Engineers’ Association has come to the defence of the four suspended NDMC engineers and alleged that the buildings in Connaught Place were too old to guarantee structural safety.
Earlier on Monday, the council suspended the four engineers for dereliction of duty resulting in the two roof collapse incidents on February 2 and 11. According to senior officials, they were responsible for monitoring the Connaught Place area.
The association submitted a memorandum to the NDMC chairperson on Friday, asking for a committee to survey the buildings in the area and identify unsafe structures. They have also demanded stay of the suspension orders of the four engineers, who are also member of the association.
“Even with latest technology of reinforced concrete (RCC) we cannot guarantee that a structure would stand for longer than 60-70 years. The buildings in Connaught Place are almost 83 years old, and were built using reinforced brick work. Their lifespan is only 40-50 years. So it cannot be the engineers’ fault if these buildings collapse,” said Param Yadav, the general secretary of the association.
He also alleged that the restaurant owner in L Block had continued some unauthorised construction work in the building, despite warnings and notices from the engineers and helped destabilise the structure.
“On 27th January, the engineers had issued a notice to the owners, when they saw that a partition wall was demolished and a metal girder was put in its place. With such old buildings, if you take a wall out, it could bring the building down. On February 4, access to the rooftop was sealed,” said Yadav.
He also said that the engineers had given another instruction to discontinue any work on February 9, before the rooftop collapsed on 11th.
“The NDMC has a provision under which they can declare a building unsafe and can order its reinforcement or demolition... The entire CP is unsafe, as the buildings are very old. Officials need to do something to ensure that this does not happen again,” he said.
Earlier, on Tuesday, the NDMC asked all shop owners in Connaught Place to get safety certificates from structural engineers. This will include self declaration by the owners and attestation by the structural engineer that the particular shop space doesn’t deviate from the sanctioned building plan and items on rooftop are there with necessary permission.
A senior NDMC official said for the survey of the individual structures or shop spaces, access will be granted to the structural engineers and architects. “This will be for limited use and for the purpose of survey. However, no other activity will be permitted,” he said.
The NDMC had banned dining on the terrace in Connaught Place due to safety concerns after, on February 2, a part of the roof in C block near the popular Jain Book Depot collapsed.
Rooftop sections of My Bar Headquarters, Warehouse Cafe in D-block, The Vault Cafe in F-block, Kinbuck-2 and Kitchen Bar in C-block, Lord of the Drinks, Open House Cafe, Unplugged Courtyard, Jungle Jamboree, Boombox Cafe, Farzi Cafe, House of Commons, Hotel Palace Heights, Office Canteen Bar, Luggage Room, Cafe OMG, Barbeque Nation, TC Bar & Restaurant, Teddy Boy Restaurant and The Niche Restaurant and Cafe Public Connection were sealed on February 3. Incidentally, the roof of one of these sealed establishments, Unplugged Courtyard, a restaurant in L-Block, caved in on February 11.
The restaurant owners on Wednesday also demanded opening the terraces after structural safety certificate is granted.
“We have proposed that once we get a safety certificate and our structures are approved, our rooftops should be desealed. We also asked the council for permission to conduct necessary repairs if any building is found to have any discrepancy,” Priyank Sukhija of the Connaught Place Restaurants Association said.
The NDMC has also formed 15 teams to take stock of condition of the buildings in Connaught Place. These teams, consisting of technical officers of different departments, will work under the overall supervision of chief engineers, chief architect, director and medical officer of health. The teams will submit their report within two days.