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Penthouse perils

Dwelling among the clouds could be dangerous in Gurgaon. In a calamity, the administration would be unable to assist anyone above 13th floor...

india Updated: Jan 14, 2009 00:10 IST
Sanjeev K Ahuja

“I shudder to think of the possibility of a fire breaking out in my apartment, which is on the 22nd floor. It is because Gurgaon does not have a disaster management plan and the expertise to save my family. We all feel like winding up from Gurgaon and getting back to Delhi,” said Shami Kachru, a resident of Gurgaon’s highest residential tower, Hamilton Court in DLF City.

Kachru has already suffered the nightmare of an earthquake two years back, when the entire building shook like a pendulum.

“At 9.30 am, as the building moved in the air because of the earthquake I grabbed Dot (her pet) in my lap and sat on the
stairs and waited for the worst to happen. Fortunately, we survived the tremor that left cracks in almost all rooms in our apartment. The Gurgaon administration announced a number of measures on disaster management immediately after this but nothing happened till long. I was awarded Rs 800 as compensation from our insurance company for the cracks that developed on the walls of our apartment, the market value of which was above Rs 1 crore,” she said.

Remembering her ordeal, Shami said the security guards at that time were so unprofessional that even the lifts were not switched off and no systematized evacuation plan was followed as there was no preparation for such a calamity when the earthquake struck.

“If at all any manmade or natural calamity such as fire, earthquake or anything else strikes our condo, we do not have trauma centres around. We have a fire station and a police station in Sector 29 at a distance of 3-4 km. In my apartment also I have just one fire detector whereas ideally these should be in almost all the rooms except the kitchen and the dining area. I feel scared when I think of a fire in my house.”

Another resident of Hamilton Court, Madan Mohan Bhalla, who got Rs 450 as compensation for cracks in six rooms when the earthquake struck in 2006, said that there were private hospitals near around Hamilton Court which not all could afford to visit. “It is a pity that we do not have trauma centres in Gurgaon and the private hospitals do not have the required infrastructure to meet the eventualities. For example, they do not have adequate number of ambulances and beds in case a major calamity strikes the city,” he added.

“Unfortunately, the administration is not clear on the definition of the disaster management concept and the preparations are made to meet the fire incidents alone. The government has failed to prepare itself for threats like terror strikes, bomb scares and earthquakes,” Bhalla added.

When asked whether Hamilton Court and two more units, Windsor Court and Regncy Park-II, were geared to meet any eventuality, the president of all three condominium associations, Rakesh Kochhar, claimed that the building had the required paraphernalia.