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Quarter of Shimla sinking: Study

damage. "New construction in the sinking
None | By Indo-Asian News Service, Shimla
UPDATED ON MAR 25, 2006 11:48 AM IST

If you are considering building a house in this popular hill resort, there are strong chances it may soon come crashing down, warns a study.

The Geological Survey of India (GSI) has come out with a survey declaring a whopping 25 per cent of the area in old Shimla unsafe as it falls in the sinking zone.

The majority of the 175,000 population here lives in old Shimla, which was built as the summer capital of British India in the early 19th century.

According to the just released GSI survey, "At least 25 per cent of the area in old Shimla isn't suitable for house construction and if proper drainage and sewerage steps aren't taken, the unsafe zone could rise to 35 per cent in 30 years."

The GSI recently carried out the survey to study the nature of the soil in the city and found that the southern regions of Fingask, Shankli and Kaithu were fast turning into a sinking zone.

The heart of the city, including Ram Bazaar, Lakkar Bazaar, Krishnanagar, Lalapani and Kanlog, is almost entirely in the sinking zone of the state.

Several buildings in downtown Shimla have been declared unsafe for many years. There have also been rising cases of newly constructed buildings collapsing in Fingask and adjoining areas in the southern parts of the city in recent years, especially during monsoon.

A similar study in 1976 had said that 14 percent of old Shimla was in the sinking zone, which has almost doubled 30 years later.

The GSI report attributes improper drainage in the upper parts of the town that are primarily causing the sinking.

Other factors are the natural rock joints and the dumping of debris due to large-scale construction that makes the surface fragile and is unable to support the weight of buildings.

The GSI has warned that the entire sewerage system must be overhauled to avoid further damage.

"New construction in the sinking zone should only be allowed by the civic authorities after proper specifications," the study cautions.

"Besides improper drainage, the other major reason for this sinking zone is the haphazard construction of multi-storey buildings and hotels in the fragile zone in the past few decades," said Birinder Singh Malhans, convener of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), Shimla.

"Civic officials have to act fast to avoid further damage to old Shimla, most of which falls in the heritage zone of the hill station," Malhans said.

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