Standing on ‘sand’, Ghaziabad high-rises at risk

  • Peeyush Khandelwal, Hindustan Times, Ghaziabad
  • Updated: Apr 27, 2015 00:47 IST

A day after a deadly earthquake hit Nepal, its aftershocks continued to be felt in Delhi and the adjoining areas of NCR on Sunday morning. Experts, however, pointed out that areas along the Hindon river are the most vulnerable due to the presence of loose soil content.

The affordable housing destination of Ghaziabad, which has around 300 residential and commercial high-rises, is also vulnerable in the event of earthquakes, they said.

Geologically, Ghaziabad forms a part of the Indo-Gangetic alluvium where soil is full of silt, sandy and loamy. According to disaster management experts, nearly 2-4 km areas along river Hindon are more vulnerable in the event of any major earthquake.

“It is because the soil here is loose and sandy. Buildings like those in the trans-Hindon areas and also near NH-58, which lies close to river Hindon, are more vulnerable to earthquakes,” said Manoj Kumar Singh, a disaster management expert, previously posted at Ghaziabad.

Singh had conceptualized and was instrumental in the preparation of the city disaster management plan (CDMP) in 2012-13.

He said that some builders compromise the structural safety of buildings and also the load bearing capacity.

“There are norms which are to be followed from the foundation to the topmost floor of the building. But the builders generally follow these only up to some floors. It is the responsibility of the development authority to ensure that buildings are earthquake resistant and comply with norms,” Singh added.

He also raised concerns over the mushrooming hubs of unauthorized colonies. Ghaziabad has over 200 identified unauthorized colonies with lakhs of people residing near Pratap Vihar, Loni and Khoda areas.

The buildings there are made with local material and follow unplanned construction mostly in violation of norms.

Apart from the unauthorized colonies, the city has also seen rapid development of multi-storied buildings that have been developed over single unit plot properties in the last decade, overlooking building by-laws and structural safety norms.

According to CDMP, the city has already felt around nine different earthquakes since 2007. Experts also feel that despite proper codes and practices laid down for design of earthquake resistant buildings, implementation and enforcement is a major issue.

On the other hand, senior town planning officials of the Ghaziabad Development Authority said that the builders follow codes and norms and even deposit a certificate from a structural engineer who certifies the structural safety issues of the project, while it is under construction.

“This certificate is obtained at the time of map approval. The building plan is further vetted by organizations like the Indian Institute of Technology (Roorkee). The buildings in Ghaziabad are earthquake resistant,” said SC Gaur, chief architect and town planner.

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