Delhi to retrofit lifeline structures
Delhi government plans to begin the process by retrofitting hospitals that come under its control
The Delhi gover nment has decided to begin the process of retrofitting in a phased manner in all the government hospitals under its control. This decision was taken at the meeting chaired by the chief minister to review the preparedness of the national Capital in case of a disaster such as an earthquake that jolted Nepal recently.
Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has directed commissioning of a study to explore the possibility of empanelling of structural engineers who will be available to provide expert opinion on the condition of existing residential and commercial buildings and recommend changes.
Interestingly, under a project taken up in 2005, five lifeline buildings had been identified and public works department personnel trained by US experts to retrofit buildings. While analysis of all the buildings was completed, work on all buildings could not be executed because the experts had to be transferred to monitor the Commonwealth Games preparations. “This government has the will to maintain the continuity of the 2005 retrofitting project and will take it forward,” says a highly-placed source in the PWD.
The first challenge to take the retrofitting project forward is to get on board experts who can suggest the most appropriate ways to retrofit these buildings. Most important, the buildings may have to be made available/ vacated for retrofitting, he says.
The Building Capacity to Reduce Earthquake Risk in India Project initiated in 2005 was funded by the USAID. Its purpose was to build the capacity of the Delhi Public Works Department ( Delhi PWD) to assess and seismically retrofit vulnerable existing buildings, especially those that have important post earthquake functions. Under the project, the US mentored the public works department engineers on seismic assessment. They were trained to retrofit five groups of important buildings selected by the government of Delhi. These included the Delhi Secretariat located near the Yamuna, the police headquarters in ITO, Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital, Ludlow Castle School and the Labour Commissioner’s office.
A K Pandit, formerly with the PWD who led the project team, says that these structures were important because they had to function in a post earthquake scenario, were of different sizes, located in different areas and had varied types of foundation.
In case of the Ludlow Castle School, the team used seismic belting for retrofitting the structure. The Labour Commissioner building opposite the divisional commissioner office was retrofitted using the shear walls technique.
The police headquarters building was found to be a strong structure but not fit to resist an anticipated tremor.
In case of the Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital, it was found that the structure was safe, non-structural retrofitting was necessary. This means that the hospital pipelines, water tanks, partition walls, shelves in the labs all needed to be secured. But this could not be taken forward because of the Commonwealth Games.
The seismic strategy for the Delhi Secretariat was finalised but implementation could not take place. Three wings in the building had to be connected to the central core and certain columns had to be strengthened. This could also not be completed.