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'Controlling damage is our top priority'

punjab Updated: Sep 06, 2014 21:47 IST
Aseem Bassi

With unsafe houses and buildings continue to collapse due to incessant rain in the region, Amritsar district has seen nine deaths in just past two days. This phenomenon is not new to the city as the same had happened in 2012 when many precious lives were lost. Though the administration had promised to check unsafe houses and buildings, these continue to exist and claim lives even after two years.

Hindustan Times speaks to deputy commissioner Ravi Bhagat to know the reasons behind the administration's apathy.

HT: Buildings are collapsing and people are dying, how serious is the administration?

DC: Certainly, this is a very serious issue. I have already asked officials of the municipal corporation to identify all unsafe structures and ask people either to vacate them or get it repaired.

The problem is longstanding and nothing noticeable has been done. Unsafe buildings were identified in the past too, but nothing changed?

The administration is serious about the problem and I have given one week's time to the MC to identify unsafe structures and to ask people to vacate or get them repaired. However, most of the incidents are taking place in the walled city, where houses are very old and crumble in heavy rain. Moreover, some non-cemented roofs collapsed too. We are dealing with the issue as our top priority so as to reduce damages.

How is the administration dealing with the damages?

I have already formed a control room and most of the officers have been asked to be watchful. We have distributed Rs 10 lakh (Rs 1.5 lakh each) to kin of the deceased. Moreover, once we identify the unsafe structures, we will go ahead with repair work. We are also communicating with the state government in this regard. I appeal to people that if they find any damage to their house due to rain, they must contact me or call at 2226161 or 2226262. In the meantime, I have ordered the closure of a school after water entered on its premises. Moreover, if people need any further assistance, we are there to help them.

Leave aside houses, many government buildings are unsafe and even officials work under broken roofs?

We are working to get this issue resolved too, and necessary repairs will be done.

Incessant rain has not only claimed lives, but left the city in pathetic condition with almost all streets waterlogged; do you think that the MC has failed on this front?

We know that the rainfall is heavy and incessant that lasted for more than two days. Of course, waterlogging is there, but the MC is performing its task to get the water cleared. Once the new sewerage system is placed, we can hope that the problem is eradicated.