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9 of 10 Delhi buildings not earthquake-proof, observes Delhi HC in PIL

The Delhi high court on Wednesday took strong objection to the central and Delhi governments showing apathy towards the issue of 90 percent of buildings in the capital being “structurally unsafe” to withstand a seismic zone (SZ) IV earthquake.

A division bench of Justice BD Ahmed and Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva directed the central and Delhi governments to give a status report on action taken to ensure structural integrity of buildings here saying they were waiting for a “disaster to happen”.

“The union of India and Delhi government are not interested (in the issue). And MCD is allowing all kinds of rampant illegal construction,” the bench remarked seeking their response within two weeks.

“Only 10 percent of buildings in MCD areas are earthquake safety norm compliant, that means 9 out of 10 will flatten when earthquake comes. So, how much population will be wiped out, the bench asked the Centre and MCD’s counsel.”

“Alarming position has been revealed that only 25 percent of capital’s areas is planned or approved while the rest 75 percent is unplanned or unauthorised. There are 17,000 unauthorised colonies here with no layout plan but they are in the process of regularisation by the government,” the high court said.

The MCD in its affidavit filed in the high court said: “The corporation is planning to seek help of IIT Delhi, Central Building Research Institute (CBRI), Roorkee, RITES, Indian Association of Structural Engineers Association etc to suggest ways and means of ascertaining the structural integrity of these buildings and steps to strengthen or retrofitting requirement in accordance with the provision of Modified Building Bye Laws.”

The MCD also said old buildings and buildings in the unplanned areas do not have the record of their design and drawing details.

It further said the corporation was planning to launch a public awareness programme in which people living in buildings about 30 or more years old will be asked to obtain a structural fitness certificate for their building from the empanelled structural engineers.

The court was hearing a PIL filed by advocate Arpit Bhargava seeking directions to immediately determine the seismic stability of buildings in Delhi.

In the PIL, Bhargava also sought direction to the authorities to take consequent remedial measures in a time bound manner in the larger public interest.

“It is apparent that construction is carried out in these colonies without obtaining any approval from any authorities,” the PIL said adding that approximately 50 lakh people were staying in these unauthorised colonies.

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