Are quake norms being ignored? | india | Hindustan Times
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Are quake norms being ignored?

The 6.8 magnitude earthquake that struck the Sikkim-Nepal border on Sunday should set the alarm bells ringing for the authorities here. However, on the contrary, those at the helm of affairs seem 'least concerned' when it comes to following the norms.

india Updated: Sep 20, 2011 00:04 IST
Darpan Singh

The 6.8 magnitude earthquake that struck the Sikkim-Nepal border on Sunday should set the alarm bells ringing for the authorities here. However, on the contrary, those at the helm of affairs seem 'least concerned' when it comes to following the norms.

Falling in the second highest seismic zone (IV), Noida and Ghaziabad are prone to earthquakes. Despite frequent tremors jolting the two cities, authorities don't seem 'bothered' to make the buildings quake-resistant. This is evident as the development authorities only approve the basic structural plans and don't check, during execution, if the building has been made quake-resistant.

Sources said builders were 'encouraged' to get their plans approved by reputed engineering institutes. Some builders also admitted that the process has become a 'formality' and is not followed in about 50% high-rise structures.

"There is no plan to upgrade the existing buildings. Only slight structural changes can be made," said Rajpal Kaushik, a senior town planner in Noida.

Right from soil-testing to the building's structure, it is the builder's responsibility to ensure safety. Officials in Noida and Ghaziabad said they mostly checked the floor-area ratio during issuance of the completion certificate. "This shows that the norms of the Bureau of Indian Standards are being frequently violated. There are configurational, design and constructional deficiencies. Seismic forces have seldom been given importance in design," said a town planner in Ghaziabad.

"In 95% of the buildings surveyed in Noida, the ground storey was found extremely soft and less resistant. In such buildings, there is a possibility of collapse of the ground storey. Besides, 56% of the surveyed buildings are vulnerable," said a senior official.

In Ghaziabad, the worst-sufferers will be the newly developed areas such as Indirapuram, Kaushambi, Vaishali and Vasundhara. The Ghaziabad Development Authority issues no-objection certificates to builders after getting proper certificates from structural experts, but there's no monitoring. The development agency completely relies upon certificates.