Staff crunch hampers efforts to stem illegal construction activity in Delhi
Illegal buildings usually go under the radar as the pre-monsoon survey of dangerous buildings conducted every year by the civic bodies never has them on the list.delhi Updated: Aug 12, 2018 01:10 IST
At least five people were killed and around 20 injured over the past three months in several incidents of portions of roof and wall collapse of buildings that have come up illegally in the national capital. However, municipal corporations tasked with the work say they have limited resources and not enough manpower at their disposal to conduct a complete survey of all such constructions in the city.
These buildings go under the radar as the pre-monsoon survey of dangerous buildings conducted every year by the civic bodies never has them on the list.
There are over a lakh illegal constructions in the capital, as per estimates given by a three-member panel to the Delhi High Court in October 2017.
According to officials, the building department across the three corporations — North, South and East — has less than half the sanctioned strength of junior engineers for civil work, who carry out the detection and demolition work.
According to corporation officials, recruitment has been made to the posts only this year. However, newly-appointed junior engineers cannot be put to “sensitive” work such as demolition, as they are under probation.
“Taking action against illegal constructions including demolition is a sensitive job, as there is a lot of pressure from residents as well as builders and local politicians. In areas that are inhabited, the drive is possible only with the help of police. At times, even with security, the civic officials are forced out of the area,” said an official privy to the department.
Out of the sanctioned strength of 323 posts for junior engineers (JE), South Corporation has only 116 regular employees of which 75 have joined only in 2018. Besides, there are 102 junior engineers working on a contractual basis.
In the North Corporation, out of the 323 sanctioned posts only 126 regular employees are there, of which 66 have joined two months ago. Of the 60 sanctioned posts of JEs in East Corporation, 28 are lying vacant for years.
“During pre-monsoon survey, the buildings are identified dangerous only on the basis of visible signs of weakness. However, there are not enough resources as well as staff available with corporations to conduct a technical survey of structural strength of all buildings,” said a senior corporation official, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
The South Corporation’s commissioner Puneet Goel in the meeting of the House last month had raised the matter saying that multiple incidents of portions of houses/buildings collapsing are in complete contrast with the “dangerous buildings” survey conducted in the area.
“Following the incidents, we plan to review the exercise. We plan to hire an agency with technical expertise for the work, as it is not possible to carry out this exercise with the limited staff at hand,” said Goel.
According to experts, implementation of building by-laws is the major issue behind the menace.
KS Mehra, former MCD commissioner, said, “The civic bodies have to ensure that electricity and water connections are not issued to any building unless it’s checked for its structural stability. They need to augment their staff strength with structural engineers and architects in order to come out with a reliable survey.”
Also, the corporations must not allow any new constructions that do not comply with norms, added Mehra.
In the 2018 “dangerous buildings”, the South and East corporations stated there were no such buildings found in the area. North Corporation identified 118 buildings, mostly in outer Delhi’s Narela.
According to officials in the North Corporation, demolition action has been taken against 680 structures, which were booked under unauthourised constructions between April 2017 and June 2018.
The East Corporation took action against 353 illegal constructions between January 1 and July 31 this year whereas South Corporation demolished 780 unauthoursied structures between January 1 and May 31st this year.
“A technical survey of these buildings is required. We have issued directions to officers to take immediate action against such constructions,” said East Corporation’s commissioner Ranbir Singh.
Chetan Vaidya, former director, School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), suggested civic bodies must engage private sector to conduct the field survey.
“In case of civic bodies not having the expertise, the authorities must engage the private sector,” he said.
First Published: Aug 12, 2018 01:08 IST