Retrofitting not the only so­lu­tion

HT Estates - - HTESTATES -

In a study un­der­taken by the Delhi De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity (DDA) af­ter the Lalita Park tragedy in which 70 lives were lost, it was re­vealed that most build­ings lo­cated in unau­tho­rised/ reg­u­larised colonies near the area could not be retro­fit­ted as the struc­tures were ex­tremely weak.

“The only op­tion left was to con­struct new struc­turally safe build­ings, but the ques­tion was who would bear the cost,” says Bal­winder Ku­mar, vice chair­man, DDA.

To en­cour­age peo­ple to come for­ward to re­de­velop ex­ist­ing build­ings, Ku­mar sug­gests that the re­de­vel­op­ment pol­icy should be made at­trac­tive and have more in­cen­tives.

In the Man­golpuri and Sul­tan­puri upgra­da­tion project un­der­taken by mi­cro home solutions,“while 12 houses were re­built and up­graded to about two storeys each, the re­main­ing six were retro­fit­ted. This means that retrofitting is not the an­swer for all the dwellings. Whether a house needs to be re­con­structed or retro­fit­ted is gen­er­ally de­cided on a case by case ba­sis,” says Swati Janu of mi­cro home solutions (mHS).

Sha­hana Sheikh, re­search as­so­ciate, Cen­tre for Pol­icy Re­search, New Delhi, says that there is a ten­dency to over­build in re­set­tle­ment colonies. How­ever, if one looks at the al­lot­ment let­ters given at the time of re­set­tle­ment/re­lo­ca­tion, usu­ally the specifics of what is al­lowed to be built is not men­tioned. In­stead, a num­ber of other con­di­tions are men­tioned: such as the plot be­ing for only res­i­den­tial use, and that it can­not be sold or rented, etc.

The Mas­ter Plan of Delhi ( MPD) 2021 sets out guide­lines for the prepa­ra­tion of lay­out plans un­der var­i­ous reg­u­la­tions,in­clud­ing norms for fa­cil­i­ties and cir­cu­la­tion sys­tem. The same ap­pears as part of The Build­ing Reg­u­la­tions for Spe­cial Area, Unau­tho­rised Reg­u­larised Colonies and Vil­lage Abadis 2010. The Build­ing Depart­ment of the MCD mon­i­tors the build­ing ac­tiv­i­ties in re­set­tle­ment colonies.

Anil Ku­mar of Na­tional Fo­rum for Hous­ing Rights (NFHR), a coali­tion of in­de­pen­dent or­gan­i­sa­tions and hous­ing rights ac­tivists across In­dia, the fo­cus of which is on forced evic­tions; in situ upgra­da­tion and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, points out that the so-called un­safe struc­tures are homes for the poor, who have built them with their mea­gre earn­ings.

“Un­safe houses and habi­ta­tions are the re­sult of lack of ad­e­quate and af­ford­able hous­ing in our city. The gov­ern­ment has not both­ered to pro­vide the poor with proper hous­ing in spite of the huge short­age of houses (26.53 mil­lion houses in ur­ban ar­eas alone in In­dia). The houses meant for the poor are gen­er­ally built in far-away places out­side the city, de­priv­ing them of their right to liveli­hood,” he says.

Ex­perts say that most re­set­tle­ment colonies in Delhi, such as Trilokpuri, are lo­cated close to the Ya­muna riverbed and their wa­ter ta­ble is high.

“Since the wa­ter ta­ble is high, the earth­quake vi­bra­tions im­pact the struc­tures that have a ten­dency to sink. In case such struc­tures are lo­cated near a high­way or a road with heavy traf­fic, the traf­fic gen­er­ates waves or vi­bra­tions through th­ese houses and that could lead to tilt­ing of the struc­ture,” says Abhay Gupta of Skele­ton/Es­com Con­sul­tants P Ltd, adding that the gov­ern­ment should make as­sess­ment of con­struc­tion qual­ity manda­tory.

– Van­dana Ram­nani

PHOTO: S BURMAULA

Un­safe hous­ing in the Cap­i­tal is the re­sult of lack of af­ford­able hous­ing in the city. A house in Trilokpuri be­ing de­mol­ished.

FILE PHOTO

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