Delhi govt plans to conduct stability test at crumbling flats for poor in Bawana
An inquiry in the collapse has found that the structure of the building became weak due to theft of iron rods that were pulled out from floors and load bearing pillars, said a senior official who is privy to the matter.
A month after the building collapse in outer Delhi’s Bawana in which four people died, the Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (DSIIDC) under the Delhi government is planning to get the structural stability test done for all the buildings in the housing complex, and also enhance security arrangements, officials aware of the development have said.
A proposal in this regard will be tabled in the DSIIDC’s board meeting on March 31, they added.
An inquiry in the collapse has found that the structure of the building became weak due to theft of iron rods that were pulled out from floors and load bearing pillars, said a senior official who is privy to the matter. “Once approved in the board meeting, we will get the structural stability test done of all the buildings in the complex,” said the official.
When contacted, the Delhi government spokesperson said that the inquiry report is yet to be submitted and necessary action will be taken.
On February 11, four people, including a nine-year-old girl and a 55-year-old woman, were killed and at least two women were injured after a four-storeyed building in the housing complex collapsed.
The 3,680-flats housing complex, which was constructed in 2010, is a picture of abject neglect. The complex was constructed for economically weaker sections under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) in 2010. But it has been lying vacant since then.
HT visited the complex on Thursday and found that major portion of the four-storeyed buildings was badly damaged.
The buildings are in a precarious condition, as load bearing pillars and walls have been removed from the ground in several buildings, iron rods are jutting from the walls and pillars, and in many buildings the staircases have collapsed. In some buildings, several pillars are missing from the ground and the structure is largely standing on corner support pillars. Even the staircases of many buildings have collapsed and debris is lying on the ground. In almost all buildings, the window panes and doors are missing from the flats.
A senior DSIIDC official said, “While conducting the inquiry into the building collapse, the team found that there are many buildings which have been damaged by miscreants. We have filed a police complaint about the theft. But as there are many structures which have been damaged, we want to get the structural stability test done of all the 150 plus buildings.”
The official added, “The structural stability test will help in identifying buildings which can be fixed with repairs and the ones which have to be razed and reconstructed.”
The roads in the complex are covered with long wild grass making it difficult to access the buildings. The manholes, located at every 40-50 steps, don’t have covers and drains are choked with garbage. The flats in the complex don’t have window panes and doors.
DSIIDC officials said that the damage to the structures in the complex has been done in the past two years during the lockdown due to the Covid pandemic.“Till 2019, there was no problem. The incidents of theft happened after that the lockdown was announced. There was restriction on movement of people and we had limited security guards deployed at the complex. The complex is surrounded by slum clusters.”
The DSIIDC now plans to deploy 200 plus guards at this housing complex. “We have deployed more guards since the incident in February. But now we plan to increase the number further, as round-the-clock security has to be provided. A proposal will be tabled in the board meeting. But it is difficult for security guards to watch an empty complex. The government is working on allotting the flats,” said another official.
From March 14 onwards, three men in plain clothes, who are employed by the Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (DSIIDC), have been deployed to guard the housing complex during the day time. They have been asked to ensure no thefts of iron rods from the buildings are stolen or any further structural damages are caused by thieves. They have also been asked to ensure that residents of nearby slums do not enter the premises with their cattle for herding. During the night, four men are deployed for similar duty.
“In the night guards usually leave the place because the complex becomes dark as there is no proper lighting around. Also, the guards fear getting attacked by thieves or even wild animals. During the day time also, it is not possible to stop thieves from stealing iron rods from the building because they come in groups and from various directions. All we do is inform the agency (DSIIDC) officials and the police about the thefts,” said one of the guards, who asked not to be named.