HC pulls up Delhi govt, MCD over stability of buildings

18 June, 2020 | Priyanka Sharma

Earthquake in Delhi National

The Delhi High Court's reaction comes in response to a series of PILs seeking a time-bound action plan as experts anticipate that a major earthquake can strike Delhi in the near future.

The Delhi High Court on Thursday expressed its dissatisfaction with the Delhi government and civic bodies over the lack of implementation of an action plan related to the seismic stability of buildings in the national capital. A division bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan listed the matter related to earthquakes for further hearing on July 8. However, the bench was not happy with the response submitted by the Delhi government and other civic bodies.

The bench was hearing an application filed by advocate Arpit Bhargav. The fresh application was filed on an old pending public interest litigation (PIL) pending since 2015. The application sought directions to the respondents to act in a time-bound manner and apprise this court about the steps taken and intended to be taken in case a major earthquake strikes Delhi in the near future.

The plea had submitted that several earthquakes had struck Delhi since April 12 and experts have the opinion that a major earthquake can hit the national capital anytime. Delhi government, in an affidavit, told the High Court that all the five urban local bodies are directed to ensure compliance of the action plan notified by the department in letter and spirit including to complete the Structural Safety Audit, detailed survey to identify the unsafe buildings, empanel the structural engineers.

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It also said that the bodies have been directed to identify the high-risk buildings for ascertaining the requirement of retrofitting and would classify the buildings, on the basis of the year of construction, in their respective jurisdiction in a time-bound manner.

It said that all the urban local bodies are directed further that all new building plans should be sanctioned as per the action plan notified and to submit their respective disaster management plan and incorporating therein details of rescue centres, details of required logistics at the time of the earthquake and detailed action plan in case of an earthquake.

The High Court, had earlier, directed all commissioners of civic bodies to file affidavits explaining the plan to deal with earthquakes and how it is to be implemented on an urgent basis. The court had directed them to make citizens aware of the precautions that have to be taken and the action plan of the government.

SDMC, in its affidavit, submitted that the Delhi government in its notification dated April 24, has proposed to constitute a committee comprising of officials from municipal corporations and two experts from IITS of such other premier institute in the field for guiding the general public as well as professionals to ensure effective implementation of the action plan.

It said that public notices will be issued in the leading newspapers for the owners of all educational buildings, institutional buildings, assembly buildings, hospitals, malls, cinema halls, and all other buildings having height more than 15 meters for getting their buildings structurally audited from the empanelled structural engineers and submit structural audit report with existing building plan to the concerned Executive Engineer (Building) within six months.

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