Delhi HC seeks answers on safety of buildings
After the government informed HC on Wednesday that a panel has been set up to finalise a plan in this regard, a bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Sanjeev Sachdeva demanded a report on how its earlier directions will be executed.
HC wants to know steps being taken by the corporations, DDA, New Delhi Municipal Council and other agencies to make sure buildings are safe in case of an earthquake more so as the city falls in a high seismic zone IV. It is hearing a PIL on this issue filed by advocate Arpit Bhargava who highlighted that 80% of the buildings in Delhi cannot stand earthquakes and have violated the National Building Code.
The court’s direction came when the corporations said it will be difficult to fully comply with its direction that all buildings must adhere to the National Building Code regarding earthquake resilience.
Appearing for the corporation standing counsel, Ajay Arora pointed out that most of the existing buildings in the city that are vulnerable to earthquakes are illegally constructed and can at best be strengthened. However, for future constructions, the corporations will insist on a safety certificate from an authorised structural engineer before clearing any building plan of a property owner.
In the hearing, director of local bodies informed the court that a draft plan in this regard is ready for existing and future buildings in the city. For unauthorised colonies, the government told court, the panel intends to give special focus as these have buildings constructed without taking into account building bylaws and structural safety norms. As most of these colonies are under the process of being regularised by the government, the panel may recommend that these are regularised only after retrofitting/strengthening is done by the civic agencies.
While the government has a two-year timeline in mind to overhaul existing buildings by carrying out a structural safety audit, the court had last year directed it to finalise an action plan on earthquake safety and issue bylaws for implementation by the three municipal corporations of Delhi.
It had also ordered the corporations, DDA and NDMC to ensure that in future no buildings come up in their jurisdictions which do not comply with the requirements of seismic zone IV as per National Building Code 2005