An earthquake shook the holy city on Wednesday afternoon, but seems to have failed so far to awaken Amritsar municipal corporation from its slumber on the issue of dilapidated buildings that pose threat to public safety.
This is quite evident from the fact that despite directives by Amritsar deputy commissioner Rajat Aggarwal time and again for regular surveys to identify and deal with unsafe buildings in the holy city, the MC is yet to act.
On Tuesday too, the DC held a meeting on flood preparedness with officials of different departments, in which he directed officials concerned to identify unsafe buildings so that action could be taken to minimise loss of human life due to floods or any other natural calamity.
Wednesday's tremours have now given him all the more reason to reiterate his directives, though fortunately no damage was reported due to the temblor in the holy city. “Holding meetings to talk about unsafe buildings is an annual exercise that is undertaken to ensure that damage of any sort is minimized, especially during the monsoons,” said Aggarwal.
He added that though no loss of life or property had been reported after Wednesday's quake, the MC should deal with the issue of unsafe buildings on priority. “This is because several precious lives have been lost in the last few years when some decrepit structures caved in during rains. We do not want these tragedies to be repeated,” he said.
The DC maintained that time and again he had asked the officials to undertake regular surveys to identify unsafe structures across the city and take steps to settle disputes regarding a majority of hazardous buildings so that some action could be initiated in this regard.
“The number of hazardous buildings keeps changing every year as more and more buildings fall into a state of disuse and disrepair for some reason or the other. The MC should make it a point to conduct regular surveys,” he said.
Sources said that as of now, there are more than 125 unsafe buildings, all concentrated mainly within the cramped confines of the walled city area. These include several residential as well as commercial buildings and are frequented by a large number of foreign and domestic tourists, visiting places of religious and historical interest that are situated nearby.
Even as the MC officials claimed that action in the form of demolition of unsafe structures was undertaken regularly, sources said that a majority of these hazardous buildings were disputed.
Municipal commissioner BS Rai said that the MC was doing its best to identify the rickety structures, mainly concentrated within the walled city. “A majority of these buildings are disputed, which makes it all the more difficult for the MC to deal with them. But we are doing our best in this regard,” he said.
Tremors felt in Gurdaspur, nearby areas
Gurdaspur: Earthquake of mild intensity was felt in and around Gurdaspur around 12.26pm on Wednesday. As soon as the locals felt the earth shake beneath their feet, they got panicky and rushed out of buildings. Soon after the earth shook for only 3 to 5 seconds, locals got busy talking about the mild temblor to. Town residents who had gone outstation rang up to family members back in Gurdaspur to inquire about their safety.
The quake did not cause any loss to life and property in Gurdaspur. Interestingly, instead of getting panicky, children were quite excited about the shaking of the earth. Many aged and religious minded town residents heaved a sigh of relief after the mild quake.