‘I have to de­stroy my own house’

An­guished Trilokpuri re­set­tle­ment colony res­i­dent has to pay to de­mol­ish home as mu­nic­i­pal au­thor­i­ties de­clare build­ing dan­ger­ous af­ter it ‘tilts’ fol­low­ing the re­cent tre­mors in Delhi

HT Estates - - FRONT PAGE - Van­dana Ram­nani

When tre­mors from the Nepal earth­quake hit the Cap­i­tal last month, lit­tle did Mo­ham­mad Us­man, owner of an ice cream par­lour and ki­rana shop in east Delhi’s Trilokpuri area, re­alise that his night­mares were just be­gin­ning, and that in just a few weeks he would be over­see­ing the de­struc­tion of his own home.

The build­ing in which Us­man lived ‘tilted’ dan­ger­ously a few days af­ter the quake and was or­dered by t he Mu­nic­i­pal Cor­po­ra­tion of Delhi to be evac­u­ated and de­mol­ished.

While mu­nic­i­pal cor­po­ra­tions so f ar have tur ned a blind eye to thou­sands of such struc­tures com­ing up in Delhi, al­low­ing ram­pant con­struc­tions that are un­planned and un­safe, au­thor­i­ties lost no time in declar­ing that Us­man would have to de­mol­ish his own home. They were also not will­ing to un­der­take the ex­penses of the de­mo­li­tion.

It was Us­man who had to em­ploy 10 labour­ers at a cost of

4,000 per day to bring down the struc­ture. Claim­ing that he had fol­lowed rules while build­ing his home and par­lour, he adds that if the mu­nic­i­pal au­thor- ity work­ers did the de­mo­li­tion the costs would work out to be

8,000 per hour if it were to de­mol­ish the struc­ture.

Anis, who runs a salon, and whose house – next to Us­man’s – has also been de­clared un­safe, says most build­ings in the area are ma­sonry non-en­gi­neered struc­tures and that it’s “un­fair” that they are be­ing “tar­geted.”

“Af­ter we’ve razed the two floors, a mu­nic­i­pal­ity team will in­ves­ti­gate the struc­ture and give us a cer­tifi­cate. We’ve been warned that if we don’t

break the struc­ture vol­un­tar­ily, the of­fi­cials will not clear the design/map in the fu­ture,” Us­man al­leges.

When con­tacted, a se­nior mu­nic­i­pal­ity of­fi­cial said that the “build­ing has been de­clared dan­ger­ous and the owners have been given time to de­mol­ish it and have to fol­low the order.”

What have au­thor­i­ties be­ing do­ing till now? Abhay Gupta, direc­tor, Skele­ton/ Es­com Con­sul­tants P Ltd, says that most con­struc­tions in this par­tic­u­lar re­set­tle­ment colony and

other such colonies in Delhi are lo­cated on the Ya­muna riverbed. Most of the struc­tures have a shal­low foun­da­tion and are largely non-en­gi­neered. What this means is that their foun­da­tion is weak due to the ground wa­ter level be­ing high.


Split wide open:

Gaps have ap­peared be­tween build­ings in Trilokpuri af­ter a re­cent trem­blor (top). Res­i­dents claim that they ‘taped the build­ings’ for safety. Home­own­ers in Trilokpuri ‘taped’ their houses for safety Struc­tures are built by lo­cal con­trac­tors with no en­gi­neer­ing ex­per­tise

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