East Delhi a tick­ing time bomb

Lives of thou­sands liv­ing in east Delhi’s un­safe struc­tures are at risk

HT Estates - - FRONT PAGE - Rozelle Laha

Lives of thou­sands of peo­ple in east Delhi liv­ing in struc­turally un­safe dwellings are at risk as Delhi De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity ( DDA) norms are be­ing flouted with im­punity by builders who are in a tear­ing rush to com­plete res­i­den­tial build­ings to meet the de­mand gap for prop­erty.

Ad­di­tional f l oors have been added to ex­ist­ing ones. Can­tilever pro­jec­tions (like a bal­cony or beam) have been added to struc­tures with­out fac­tor­ing in their load-bear­ing ca­pac­ity; struc­tures have come up on plot sizes as small as 20 sq yard that also do not have the min­i­mum re­quired gap of four feet on both sides. Sin­gle brick­work on the higher floors with weak mor­tar and nu­mer­ous win­dow open­ings are mak­ing build­ings vul­ner­a­ble to nat­u­ral calami­ties.

“Sur­viv­ing in th­ese ar­eas dur­ing nat­u­ral calami­ties, be th­ese earth­quakes or floods, could be tough. In case a build­ing col­lapses, oth­ers close to it will also be dam­aged. Owners of the prop­er­ties usu­ally em­ploy lo­cal, small-time con­trac­tors for tech­ni­cal ad­vice. All such con­struc­tions are il­le­gal. If Delhi is struck by an earth­quake of mag­ni­tude 7 on the Richter scale, sev­eral such build­ings are likely to col­lapse,” says Pradeep Misra, CMD, Ru­drab­hishek En­ter­prises Pvt Ltd.

Out­break of fires, too, could be dis­as­trous. As per the Build­ing Bye-Laws for Union Ter­ri­tory of Delhi, 1983, un­der ju­ris­dic­tion of Delhi De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity, main en­trances to the premises have to be ad­e­quately wide, not mea­sur­ing less than five me­tres, to al­low easy ac­cess to fire en­gines. Arch­ways over the main en­trance should also be no less than four me­tres in height. In ar­eas like Laxmi Na­gar, Nir­man Vi­har or Geeta Colony, the nar­row lanes could be a po­ten­tial fire haz­ard, ham­per­ing en­try of fire bri­gades. The can­tilever pro­jec­tions and low arch­ways would also not al­low the ve­hi­cles to func­tion smoothly.

Many peo­ple who own big plots of say 200 sq yards have sub­di­vided the same into two to three seg­ments, each plot get­ting smaller in shape and size than the stan­dard ones al­lowed by law. “The plot size for a fam­ily of four per­sons should be at least 150 sq yard and not less than 10 yards (30 feet) wide. In case of the Lalita Park build­ing which col­lapsed in Novem­ber 2010, the plot size was 100 sq yard – much less than the stan­dard size. Its width was five yards with length 20 yards,” says Chan­dan Ghosh, pro­fes­sor and head of the geo-haz­ard risk man­age­ment divi­sion and IT Sec­tion, Na­tional In­sti­tute of Disas­ter Man­age­ment (NIDM). “Au­thor­i­ties over­look nar­row plot sizes and some­times pass plans with­out con­sid­er­ing the plot shape, some­thing that should not be done in an earth­quake- prone area like Delhi-NCR.”

How dan­ger­ous th­ese build- ings are is ob­vi­ous from the way new ad­di­tions are be­ing made to old struc­tures. More floors are be­ing added to a build­ing just by us­ing the base pil­lar of the orig­i­nal sin­gle-storey struc­ture for sup­port. Some home­own­ers in ar­eas like Laxmi Na­gar and Man­dawali have re­duced the width of the in­te­rior walls to lessen the load on the pil­lars. How­ever, such struc­tures are not just weak, th­ese also pose a huge threat to the ad­join­ing build­ings.


Build­ings on both sides of a nar­row lane which is of­ten blocked by parked ve­hi­cles/build­ing ma­te­ri­als etc. Most of the build­ings go up to fourth, fifth and even sixth floors. There is no as­sur­ance of qual­ity con­struc­tion. Some of the floors have also been ex­tended by three to four feet, hardly leav­ing any space for light to fil­ter through. Il­le­gal elec­tric­ity con­nec­tions criss­cross each other in a tan­gled mess, in­creas­ing chances of fire

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