The collapsed Lalita Park building could have been saved if a nearby Ranney Well was functioning.
Ranney Wells are meant to collect ground water that can be used for drinking purposes. With the ground water level rising after the heavy monsoons this year, the Ranney Wells could have helped minimise the sub-soil seepage, sources said.
Most colonies in East Delhi areas are built on flood plains. So when it rains, the rising sub-soil water causes seepages in the basements. This weakens the buildings' foundations.
"The building that collapsed on Monday was near a Ranney Well. If the well was functional the water might not have accumulated in the basements and weakened the building's foundation. We have asked the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) to revive all the Ranney Wells in the city to normalise the ground water level," said AK Walia, urban development minister of Delhi.
The MCD has also claimed that the problem of water accumulation in the basements could have been averted if the Ranney Wells were functioning. "Pumping water out of the basement is not the solution as it will keep happening again and again. The problem has to be stopped at the source itself," said a senior MCD official.
There are a total of five such Ranney Wells in East Delhi area that have not been working for the past many years: IP Extension, Ghazipur, Dairy Farm, Vasundhara Enclave and Kondli. The depth of these wells is 20-25 meters. "The ground water level had been depleting over the past few years and hence the Ranney Wells were made non-operational. The Ranney Wells in East Delhi areas were shut as we had made provision of piped water there. These wells store water which is used for drinking purpose, so why will they function after we have provided piped water?" said a senior DJB official.