Many builders in the National Capital Region claim that their constructions are earthquake-resistant. But there’s no way buyers can be sure of this because development authorities in the region have no means to check how a building is constructed and the quality of material used for construction.
No mechanism exists in the National Building Code (NBC) to certify buildings as safe from natural disasters and the building codes do not contain any provisions by which ‘safe’ high-rises can be designed or constructed. The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has also not updated the NBC for the past decade.
“Development authorities in Noida, Ghaziabad, Gurgaon and Faridabad cannot corroborate claims of developers that they are using quality building materials or proper earthquakeresistant techniques to build,” says Ashish Kaul, a homebuyer and RTI activist.
Kaul had filed an application under RTI with the Noida Authority, asking whether construction material was being inspected in under-construction buildings in Noida. The authority’s response was negative.
“Most constructions in the country are in danger as basic norms are flouted. If there are 50 parameters to be checked, only two are being checked. Builders don’t use quality material as per BIS,” says Chandan Ghosh, professor and head of the geo-hazard risk management division and IT Section, National Institute of Disaster Management.
Authorities require project design/layouts to be vetted by the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. Once this is done, the authorities give their approval if the project appears to comply with Development Acts.
“After approvals the developers can do whatever they want without bothering about construction quality,” says a senior IIT professor, adding that too much is dependent on the undertakings that the builders give to the development authorities.
The Supreme Court had in December 2014 passed an order for buildings housing more than 100 people and those more than five storeys high to have an engraved metal plate declaring the structure as ‘earthquake resistant.’
The government did not do anything, says Major Sandeep Donald Shah, country head and MD-India Miyamoto International, an earthquake and structural engineering firm.
Shah had pleaded before the SC to pass suitable orders to direct the National Disaster Management Authority to undertake a public awareness campaign to educate the public about the different categories of earthquake resistant buildings.