‘Stay safe, go in for seis­mic retrofit and up­grade’

Part-II of our safe build­ing se­ries fo­cusses on as­sess­ment and aware­ness of the safety cat­e­gory of struc­tures SAFETY FIRST

HT Estates - - HTESTATES - Aye­sha Ban­er­jee

The earth­quakes on April 25 and May 15, both above mag­ni­tude 7, and con­tin­u­ing af­ter­shocks in Nepal, which were also felt in In­dia, have in­ten­si­fied the de­bate on struc­tural safety in the sub­con­ti­nent. HT Es­tates, which has reg­u­larly re­ported on the state of build­ings in In­dia and the need to retrofit and re­con­struct dam­aged or weak struc­tures, once again un­der­lines the im­por­tance of know­ing more about earth­quake re­sis­tance grades of build­ings.

There are rea­sons for worry, says San­deep Don­ald Shah, coun­try head of, Miyamoto In­ter­na­tional, an earth­quake and struc­tural en­gi­neer­ing firm, whose PIL last year led to the Supreme Court or­der­ing the gov­ern­ment to en­sure that all real es­tate projects in the coun­try clearly dis­play their re­spec­tive earth­quake-re­sis­tant grade, along with clear mean­ing of the cat­e­gory as de­fined by the gov­ern­ment. The In­dian seis­mic code, which Nepal largely fol­lows, cov­ers only the last cat­e­gory of earth­quake re­sis­tance, which is ‘col­lapse preven­tion.’ In In­dia 100% of the build­ings, in­clud­ing hos­pi­tals and high­rises, are de­signed and built only to the col­lapse preven­tion stan­dards. This level is for build­ings, the con­tents and util­i­ties of which, when shaken se­verely, suf­fer ma­jor dam­age. The build­ing does not have any ad­di­tional re­serve ca­pac­ity, is in the state of im­mi­nent col­lapse, and can­not be used af­ter the earth­quake.

As the build­ings in Nepal too were de­signed and built to the col­lapse preven­tion stan­dards th­ese suf­fered ex­ten­sive dam­age. “If you read the def­i­ni­tion, the dam­age is said to be be­yond re­pair,” Shah ex­plains.

Im­por­tant build­ings and high-rises have to be built to

Im­por­tant build­ings and high­rises have to be built to ‘im­me­di­ate oc­cu­pancy’ stan­dards.

Dif­fer­ence of costs be­tween ‘col­lapse preven­tion’ and ‘im­me­di­ate oc­cu­pancy’ is ap­prox­i­mately ₹ 350 per sq ft

The build­ings in Nepal were de­signed and built to the col­lapse preven­tion stan­dards and suf­fered ex­ten­sive dam­age

‘im­me­di­ate oc­cu­pancy’ stan­dards. This is de­fined as a build­ing, its con­tents and util­i­ties, de­spite be­ing shaken pre­dom­i­nantly in their lin­ear range of be­hav­iour, sus­tain only mi­nor dam­age. The use of pre­vail­ing func­tions of the build­ing and fa­cil­i­ties is not re­stricted af­ter the earth­quake so that its func­tion­ing can be re­sumed im­me­di­ately af­ter the earth­quake.

Dif­fer­ence of costs be­tween ‘col­lapse preven­tion’ and ‘im­me­di­ate oc­cu­pancy’ is ap­prox­i­mately ₹ 350 per sq ft.

There are two main In­dian seis­mic codes, of which IS-1893 has not been up­dated for 13 years and IS-13920 has not been up­dated for 22 years.

The first ( and top- rated) earth­quake- re­sis­tant build- ings cat­e­gories are, as per the Gov­ern­ment of In­dia doc­u­ment which is also in line with in­ter­na­tional def­i­ni­tions, is the ‘fully op­er­a­tional level’, when de­spite the build­ing, its con­tents and util­i­ties be­ing shaken by an earth­quake, no dam­age oc­curs; the func­tion of the build­ing is not dis­rupted due to the oc­cur­rence of the earth­quake.

‘Life safety level’ of earth­quake re­sis­tance is de­fined as the build­ing, its con­tents and util­i­ties be­ing shaken se­verely in their non­lin­ear range of be­hav­iour. Sig­nif­i­cant dam­age oc­curs in them, but the build­ing re­mains within its re­serve ca­pac­ity and does not reach the state of im­mi­nent col­lapse. The use of the fa­cil­ity is re­stricted af­ter the earth­quake un­til de­tailed struc­tural safety as­sess­ment is per­formed to as­cer­tain the suit­abil­ity of the build­ing for retrofitting. If found suit­able, the build­ing may be retro­fit­ted.

What is the way out for peo­ple liv­ing in high-rises in which no cat­e­gory has been spec­i­fied? Shah says his ad­vice to them would be to go in for seis­mic retrofit and seis­mic up­grade with­out wait­ing for an­other earth­quake to strike. “It is also much less ex­pen­sive and safe,” he adds. This fear loomed large in the minds of sev­eral po­lit­i­cal and mar­ket an­a­lysts since the time Modi came to power. The highly cen­tralised ap­pear­ance of the gov­ern­ment has mod­er­ated in re­cent times with de­cen­tral­i­sa­tion of power to cab­i­net mem­bers and states’ chief min­is­ters. “We agree that power should be fur­ther de-cen­tralised to the grassroots level (ie dis­trict and pan­chayat level au­thor­i­ties) and this fur­ther down­ward per­co­la­tion of power may take an­other year or two,” says the white pa­per.

Sus­pect­ing that the Noida Au­thor­ity had al­lowed Jaypee or Ma­h­a­gun to amend orig­i­nal lay­out plans, the Bhat­las then filed the writ pe­ti­tion in the Al­la­habad High Court, ar­gu­ing that “be­fore amend­ing the orig­i­nal sanc­tioned plan, prior permission of the in­tend­ing pur­chasers should have been taken as re­quired un­der the UP Apart­ment (Pro­mo­tion of Con­struc­tion, Own­er­ship and Maintenance) Act. So any al­ter­ation/amend­ment in the orig­i­nal plan is il­le­gal.”

Much to the sur­prise of the As the def­i­ni­tion of smart cities given in the note re­leased by min­istry of ur­ban de­vel­op­ment is too broad, dif­fer­ent agen­cies have had dif­fer­ent in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the con­cept. Even though the union cab­i­net has cleared the Smart Cities Mis­sion and al­lo­cated ₹ 48,000 crore, there is pe­ti­tion­ers, Noida Au­thor­ity in­formed the court that it had nei­ther re­vised nor amended nor sanc­tioned any fresh lay­out plan in the Jaypee Greens Group Hous­ing So­ci­ety. The pe­ti­tion had also made a plea to quash the amended plan but no ar­gu­ment over the mat­ter took place as the Au­thor­ity said in court that it had not amended the orig­i­nal plan. “Un­der the cir­cum­stances, the al­le­ga­tions made by the pe­ti­tioner that the ini­tial lay­out plan has been amended by bi­fur­ca­tion/divi­sion/al­terna-

tion doesn’t stand. That be so, we don’t find any merit in this pe­ti­tion war­rant­ing in­ter­fer­ence in writ ju­ris­dic­tion,” the court or­dered.

The Kristal Court home­buy­ers are sat­is­fied by the order, but the big­ger ques­tion now is how the de­vel­oper Ma­h­a­gun ad­ver­tised a lay­out plan not ap­proved by the Noida Au­thor­ity.

“I f we go by t he Noida Au­thor­ity’s ver­sion, Ma­h­a­gun Mano­rial is ba­si­cally four tow­ers of Krys­tal Court – two with G+20 and two oth­ers with G+26 floors. How­ever Ma­h­a­gun Mano­rial’s brochures showed six tow­ers each with 45 storeys. There is a big film star pro­mot­ing the project. What if some­one buys an apart­ment there? Isn’t such an ad­ver­tis­ing mis­lead­ing the home­buyer as he might lose his money in­vest­ing in a project for which no Au­thor­ity ap­provals have been ac­quired?” asks Avi­ral.

Home­buy­ers are also ques­tion­ing why the Noida Au­thor­ity has not taken any ac­tion against the de­vel­oper. “When al­lot­tees of Kristal Court can no­tice the mis­lead­ing ad­ver­tise­ment, why can’t Noida Au­thor­ity do so? Un­der sec­tion 4 (1) of the UP Apart­ment Act 2010, it’s an of­fence to launch any project with­out get­ting its lay­out plan ap­proved,” he adds.

Ef­forts to get a re­ac­tion from Noida Au­thor­ity proved fu­tile.

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