Amritsar MC slaps notices on unsafe buildings

  • Shaheen P Parshad, Hindustan Times, Amritsar
  • Updated: Sep 07, 2014 10:41 IST

With incessant rain claiming nine lives in the last two days, the focal point of the municipal corporation authorities has once again shifted to “unsafe” buildings in the city.

The MC authorities have slapped notices on the owners’ of unsafe buildings- 100 of which are located in narrow lanes of the walled city area alone and continue to serve as shops-cum-residence- asking them either get their buildings repaired or vacate them.

MC’s move came in the wake of nine deaths in five incidents of roof collapse — on Friday, five deaths were reported from Jassonangal village and one each from Meerankot village, Ekta Nagar and Pawan Nagar; besides one death was reported from the city on Thursday.

Threadbare structures
These structures are so dilapidated that these can collapse at the slightest hint of wind or rain. Therefore, it is not at all a matter of surprise if many people have lost their lives in incidents of roof collapse in the past.

This also testifies to the potential threat posed by such structures to their occupants as well as neighbours.

Past roof collapse incidents
Five people each were killed in incidents of roof collapse in 2011 and 2012, while six were reported dead in various incidents of building collapse in 2013. On Friday, a rickety old building collapsed in Fatahpur Colony near Gate Hakima, though no loss of life was reported.

MC conducts surveys
At least 119 unsafe buildings were identified in a survey conducted by the corporation almost a decade ago. Despite the MC’s claims of taking action against such buildings, their numbers kept increasing. As many as 119 unsafe edifices were identified only in the walled city area in 2004, according to a recent survey, which records 143 hazardous buildings.

MC claims that action was taken
After the identification of 119 rickety structures in 2004, the MC officials claimed to have razed 19. A few of these were razed last year, they claimed, however, the structures continued to exist, with the MC citing legal disputes as a major hurdle in taking action against them.

Residents differ
Even as the MC authorities claim that they are dealing with unsafe buildings on a regular basis, residents said this was not true.

Gopal Verma, a resident of Katra Ahluwalia area, said there were several unsafe edifices in the area that had jeopardised residents’ lives. “We have written to the MC a number of times, urging them to demolish these buildings, but they are yet to initiate action,” he said.

DC’s directions ignored
This is regardless of the fact that former deputy commissioner Rajat Aggarwal directed the MC to conduct a fresh survey of these buildings and deal with them ahead of the monsoon season to avoid any loss of life.

Flood control room established
In view of incessant rain, deputy commissioner Ravi Bhagat has established a flood control room in the city, besides deploying officials for the dissemination of flood-related information.

Official speaks
Municipal commissioner Pradeep Sabharwal attributed the increase in the number of unsafe buildings to the fact that each year a number of buildings outlived their lifespan. “The average span of a building is 80 years. Thereafter, it becomes a liability for the owners or occupants, as it requires a fortune to maintain a building,” he said.

He added that majority of people living in such buildings were financially backward and could hardly get these buildings repaired.

“Apart from this, a number of such buildings are involved in legal disputes, which makes it hard for the MC to initiate any action against them,” he said.

He added that notices had been issued to occupants of these buildings to either repair these edifices or vacate them.

Hemant Batra, MC senior town planner, said the MC was seriously pursuing this issue. “The issue is being taken up seriously. Action would soon be initiated in this regard,” he added.

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