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Will the civic body work only after people die?

delhi Updated: Jul 15, 2010 01:34 IST
Nivedita Khandekar
Nivedita Khandekar
Hindustan Times
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Why did it take the death of six persons from a family for the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) to announced formation of a panel of structural engineers to evaluate safety status of buildings?

There are hundreds of old and dilapidated buildings across the city and scores of others constructed in unauthorised manner, making them vulnerable to accidents, especially during heavy rains.

Every monsoon the story is repeated with the civic body waking up only after a tragic incident like Wednesday's takes place.

According to the MCD's own records, Old Delhi has more than 70 hazardous buildings that are more than 100 years old. Most of these are located in Sadar Paharganj and City zones of the MCD. Large areas in East Delhi and North-East Delhi have several unauthorised colonies.

The civic agency carries out an annual survey before the onset of monsoon to identify dangerous buildings. However, on record the last survey was conducted in 2007-08.

When Hindustan Times raised the issue in mid-June (see box), the MCD had said: "We will soon start the process of conducting the survey. Dangerous buildings that need to be demolished or those that need repair will be served notices."

But nothing was done. Brahmpuri accident is the fourth such incident in a week's time that resulted in 11 deaths and eight injured people.

Experts have thrashed the civic body for allowing matters to come to this stage.

Professor Kuldeep Chandra from the School of Planning and Architecture's Building Engineering and Construction Department said, "Unauthorised construction is carried out in connivance with the civic body officials, specially junior engineers."

"For old buildings, it is the duty of the MCD to find out if a particular building is fit for living or not. There is some kind of political pressure in many areas to allow such things," Chandra said.

Architect and Urban Planner Professor AGK Menon said, "When life and safety is involved, the civic agency should take suo moto action."

For old buildings, he strongly recommended an overhaul of machinery that would properly monitor any building activity to avoid accidents.