Delhi sit­ting on a tick­ing time bomb

Build­ings will not be able to with­stand a 6 mag­ni­tude quake, say ex­perts

HT Estates - - NEWS -

Ama­jor­ity of buildi ngs i n Delhi are “can­cer­ous” and no struc­tural mod­i­fi­ca­tion can en­sure their safety.” Chan­dan Ghosh, pro­fes­sor and head of the geo­haz­ard risk man­age­ment divi­sion, Na­tional Disas­ter Man­age­ment In­sti­tute ( NDMI), who con­ducted a study on the struc­tural safety of 10,000 build­ings in east Delhi af­ter the Lalita Park build­ing col­lapse tragedy, had rec­om­mended that most of the struc­tures in east Delhi be pulled down and re­placed with new build­ings as there was no way to make the ex­ist­ing build­ings safe. Delhi is part of a high-risk seis­mic zone. The city had ex­pe­ri­enced a deadly earth­quake in 1720 but the ex­tent of dam­age had been min­imised be­cause of a smaller pop­u­la­tion. An­other earth­quake of mag­ni­tude 6 on the Richter scale had hit Delhi in 1960 but again the dam­age was re­stricted as the il­le­gal ur­ban sprawl was not as ex­ten­sive as it is to­day.

“Ac­cord­ing to geo­sci­en­tists, the earth­quake cy­cle ro­tates and it’s pre­dicted that Delhi may ex­pe­ri­ence a ma­jor earth­quake once in 250 to 300 years. De­spite the im­mi­nent dan­ger, we are not at all se­ri­ous about the build­ing safety stan­dards in Delhi. The tre­mors that we have ex­pe­ri­enced in the last few years are mild ones with three or four on the Richter scale,” says Binod Ku­mar Singh, head, depart­ment of civil en­gi­neer­ing, Al-Falah School of En­gi­neer­ing and Tech­nol­ogy.

Singh is on the MCD panel of struc­tural safety ex­perts and al­leges that both the peo­ple and gov­ern­ment agen­cies are flout­ing build­ing safety norms. “Delhi has ap­prox­i­mately 32 lakh build­ings out of which 90% don’t ad­here to struc­tural safety norms so they are vul­ner­a­ble to any nat­u­ral disas­ter. An earth­quake mea­sur­ing 6 or more on the Richter scale can lead to a disas­ter of unimag­in­able pro­por­tions in the city,” says Singh. “Due to greed, peo­ple are com­pro­mis­ing on build­ing safety. Even many struc­tural safety en­gi­neers, em­pan­elled with MCD are ap­prov­ing un­safe build­ings. It’s a very se­ri­ous is­sue,” he al­leges.

A civil engineer em­pan­elled with the MCD al­leges that peo­ple also want to com­plete a build­ing as soon as pos­si­ble “be­cause they have to pay a monthly bribe to MCD of­fi­cials and beat con­sta­bles till con­struc­tion work con­tin­ues.”

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