HindustanTimes Fri,24 Oct 2014

Disasters waiting to happen in Delhi

Ritam Halder, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, June 29, 2014
First Published: 00:32 IST(29/6/2014) | Last Updated: 00:37 IST(29/6/2014)

Dotted with illegal and old structures that violate building norms, most areas of Delhi are vulnerable to disasters like the one that took place in Inderlok on Saturday.

In North Delhi, old, weak constructions in the Walled City area and unauthorised constructions in places such as Inderlok, Burari, Wazirabad and Badli are prone to the risk of collapse.

In East Delhi, the low ground level because of the proximity to the Yamuna makes the foundations of buildings in Laxmi Nagar, Geeta Colony, Shashtri Park and Sonia Vihar weak. Illegal constructions in Dilshad Garden, Patparganj and Seelampur are cause for concern.

In corners like Rajeev Nagar, Batla House extension, Jaitpur extension, Bhogal, Kalkaji, Okhla, parts of Dwarka, Bijwasan of the otherwise posh South Delhi area, there is a constant threat of a manmade catastrophe.

The building departments of the corporations are supposed to identify “dangerous buildings” and issue evacuation notices and then conduct demolition. But these on-paper exercises rarely yield results and the outcome is a building collapse.

According to a senior South civic body official, all junior engineers and superintendent engineers of the corporation get trained on rapid visual survey by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). “Our officials are well-equipped. We identify and give notices of vacation or demolition to dangerous buildings,” he said.

East Delhi has many unsafe buildings that can fall like a pack of cards if a major earthquake strikes the Capital and also boasts of the most number of unauthorised colonies, where houses have been constructed on weak foundations.

The civic body claims to have taken all possible precautions. “There is a standard procedure where firstly a survey is conducted and buildings found to be unsafe are tagged dangerous. After that a notice on action to be taken is issued,” a senior East body official said. “Our ground level is low and thereby we have to be more prompt,” he said.

The Walled City, too, is full of dilapidated buildings with the civic agency turning a blind eye rather than demolishing them. Officials say these buildings of Old Delhi are not very strong. “Most of them are over 200 years old. We do survey dangerous buildings and act on residents’ complaints,” an official said.

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