Delhi govt and Centre not serious about seismic threat to Delhi: HC

  • Soibam Rocky Singh, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Aug 26, 2015 23:32 IST

About 90% of buildings in the national capital are not structurally equipped to withstand a seismic zone (SZ) IV earthquake but the Centre and Delhi government are “not interested” in taking any corrective measures, the Delhi high court said on Wednesday.

Saying that the government was waiting for a “disaster to happen”, a bench of justice BD Ahmed and justice Sanjeev Sachdeva directed the Centre and Delhi government to give a status report on action taken so far to ensure structural integrity of buildings.

The court said it was forced to step in on the issue as none of the authorities were doing their job.

“Only 10% of buildings in MCD areas are earthquake safety norm compliant, that means 9 out of 10 buildings will flatten when earthquake comes. So, how much population will be wiped out,” the bench asked the Centre and MCD’s counsel.

Delhi with a population of over 1.6 crore falls in seismic zone (SZ) IV, a high-damage risk zone that can expect the second highest level of earthquakes.

“Only 25% of the capital’s areas are planned or approved while the rest 75% is unplanned or unauthorised. There are 17,000 unauthorised colonies with no layout plan but they are in the process of regularisation,” the HC said.

In its affidavit, filed at the HC, the MCD has said that old buildings and those in the unplanned areas do not have the record of their design and drawing details.

“The corporation is planning to seek help of IIT Delhi, Central Building Research Institute, Roorkee, RITES, Indian Association of Structural Engineers Association, etc, to suggest ways and means of ascertaining the structural integrity of these buildings and steps to strengthen or retrofitting requirements in accordance with the provision of modified building byelaws,” the MCD counsel said.

The counsel said the corporation is planning to launch a public awareness programme in which people living in buildings of about 30 or more years old will be asked to obtain structural fitness certificate for their building from the empanelled structural engineers.
The bench took strong objection to the absence of any representation from Delhi government in the case.

“Union of India and Delhi government are not interested (in the issue). And MCD is allowing all kinds of rampant illegal construction,” the bench said, seeking their response within two weeks.The court was hearing a PIL filed by advocate Arpit Bhargava seeking directions to immediately determine seismic stability of buildings in Delhi.

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