Delhi to retro­fit life­line struc­tures

Delhi gov­ern­ment plans to begin the process by retrofitting hos­pi­tals that come un­der its con­trol

HT Estates - - FRONT PAGE - Van­dana Ram­nani

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.

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