If Nepal-like quake hits Delhi, casualties may be in lakhs: HC

If Nepal-like quake hits Delhi, casualties may be in lakhs: HC

The Delhi High Court today rapped the city's municipal corporations for "dereliction of duty" and allowing buildings to come up without complying with regulations saying it may result in death of lakhs of people if an earthquake, like that in Nepal, occurs here.

A bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva made the observation after it was told by a civic body that about 80 per cent of the buildings in Delhi have come up without complying with regulations, including those of structural stability.

The court also observed that since 80 per cent of the structures have come up without following the regulations, if a earthquake like the one in Nepal occurs here, the casualties would not be in thousands but in lakhs.

It issued notice to the Delhi government and municipal corporations seeking their responses by May 20 on a PIL questioning how safe were the structures in the national capital if an earthquake of a huge magnitude happens here.

The court also directed the civic authorities to file status reports, in 10 days, indicating whether policy with regard to structural stability of buildings in Delhi were being implemented keeping in mind that national capital falls in seismic zone (SZ) IV.
SZ IV is called a high damage risk zone which can expect the second highest level of earthquakes.

The civic bodies have also been directed to indicate in their reports whether buildings in the city are complying with the structural stability norms prescribed in the National Building Code (NBC) for SZ IV.

The court, during the hearing, also observed that in areas like Karol Bagh in the national capital, majority of the buildings have been constructed in violation of norms.

It said that while the regulations only provide for three-storey buildings, those in Karol Bagh are usually six-storeys tall.

The petition, by a lawyer, has also asked what kind of action plan does the corporation have to tackle the issue.

During the hearing, the corporation told the court that only about 20 per cent of the buildings in the national capital have been built by complying with the regulations.

It also told the court that the structural safety norms were determined on the basis of NBC of the Ministry of Urban Development and that it provides the structural as well as architectural guidelines.

It also said that under NBC, a certificate is required from an architect of a building that the structure has complied with all norms.

The court, thereafter, asked the corporation to place before it the latest NBC.
The corporation said the latest NBC was of 2013 and it is in a draft form and the earlier one was of 2005.

After perusing the NBC, the court remarked, "On paper India is well regulated, but on ground the situation is different".

The petition also cited instances of houses tilting and walls developing cracks were reported from Trilokpuri in east Delhi after the recent earthquake in Nepal.

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