En­sure safety be­fore disas­ter strikes

1 Colonies in the Cap­i­tal, reg­u­larised by the gov­ern­ment some­time back, are vul­ner­a­ble to quakes and fires as rules have been vi­o­lated to build res­i­den­tial struc­tures here

HT Estates - - HTESTATES - HT Es­tates Cor­re­spon­dent

Nar­row lanes wide enough for only lo­cal rick­shaws to pass through, floors of a build­ing bal­anced on float­ing walls (con­structed to shift slightly when the floor or ceil­ing within the space ex­pands or con­tracts.

Plates along the bot­tom of the fram­ing make it pos­si­ble for the struc­ture to move up and down and ac­com­mo­date con­trac­tions or ex­pan­sions with­out cre­at­ing any cracks in the sur­fac­ing of the wall), un­even up­per floors, no gaps be­tween build­ings, high­t­en­sion wires loosely hang­ing over a busy lane - th­ese are but some of the things that char­ac­terise unau­tho­rised colonies which have been reg­u­larised later in Delhi NCR. As the Cap­i­tal sits on seis­mic zone IV, the gov­ern­ment should give pri­or­ity to iden­ti­fy­ing and strength­en­ing such struc­tures.

One way street

Build­ings in th­ese ar­eas are gen­er­ally con­structed on both sides of a nar­row lane that are of­ten blocked with parked ve­hi­cles or build­ing ma­te­ri­als in such a man­ner that even two rick­shaws can­not si­mul­ta­ne­ously pass through, for­get an ambulance or a fire ten­der!

Hang­ing floors

Most build­ings with a first floor have a five to six-feet pro­jec­tion or a hor­i­zon­tal ex­ten­sion. The other floors are con­structed on such over­hangs as float­ing walls that can prove to be dan­ger­ous in the event of an earth­quake. Most im­por­tantly, build­ing byelaws do not have any pro­vi­sions in place for build­ings with such cov­ered area ex­ten­sions.

In most cases, there is no gap be­tween build­ings be­cause con­struc­tion is al­lowed on a full plot area with pro­vi­sions for front and back set­backs (which is the re­quired sep­a­ra­tion be­tween a right-of-way line and a build­ing or struc­ture). In th­ese ar­eas, the en­tire plot area is cov­ered and even the up­per floors are not con­structed uni­formly. This un­even­ness is bound have a dis­as­trous im­pact dur­ing an earth­quake.

Un­healthy life­styles

More­over, even the drains, if they ex­ist, are ei­ther open or do not have a proper gra­di­ent. Most of them over­flow even if it rains for a few hours. Dur­ing the mon­soons sewage and ac­cu­mu­lated rain wa­ter can prove to be a breed­ing ground for mos­qui­toes. Be­sides, there is also no way by which the drainage ca­pac­ity of the ex­ist­ing sys­tem can be mea­sured. If this was pos­si­ble, the is­sue of clean­li­ness could have been taken care of to a great ex­tent.

The high-ten­sion wires/trans­form­ers are akin to a bomb that can go of any time. Most colonies in Delhi are termed as unau­tho­rised and there­fore con­struc­tions in th­ese ar­eas are not reg­u­lated as per byelaws. There is also no guar­an­tee that all con­struc­tions in au­tho­rised ar­eas have been mon­i­tored by qual­i­fied con­struc­tion agen­cies/en­gi­neers.

All th­ese el­e­ments will con­tinue to be a part and par­cel of most lo­cal­i­ties in Delhi NCR un­til yet an­other dev­as­tat­ing earth­quake sends a re­minder that disas­ter safety mea­sures are the need of the hour and so are safe houses .

The so­lu­tion

The mas­sive growth of il­le­gal, un­ap­proved and risky res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial struc­tures can be con­trolled by en­hanc­ing avail­abil­ity of planned and or­gan­ised hous­ing.

But that per­haps may not be fea­si­ble pri­mar­ily due to high land prices. This is the rea­son why much of the planned and af­ford­able hous­ing stock has come up in UP and Haryana.

If states come for­ward and make ef­forts to launch hous­ing schemes pe­ri­od­i­cally, many more peo­ple will not risk their lives and go for risky struc­tures in unatho­rised ar­eas.

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