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Experts warn of heavy causalities even in moderate tremors

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

As Nepal reels under devastating earthquake, experts today warned that Indian cities like Delhi could suffer heavy casualties even in case of moderate tremors while pointing out the lapses in the building regulations of the country.

Noting that the condition and quality of Indian building stock is "poor", Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said that India has many instances of buildings collapsing even without an earthquake and 70-80 per cent of buildings violate regulations in Delhi.

"It is estimated by experts that India is likely to report heavy casualties if a moderate earthquake struck, particularly in the large cities including Delhi. Ninety per cent of the building designs in the capital are either by the mason or the contractor.

"Newly-constructed houses rarely abide by the meticulous National Building Code-2005, Master Plan of Delhi-2021, Vulnerability Atlas-2006, building By-laws, or the housing construction, planning, development and regulatory authorities. The seasonal wear and tear demand is rarely met," Avikal Somvanshi, senior research associate at CSE.

Referring to the Tejendra Khanna Committee, set up in 2006 to look into various aspects of unauthorised constructions and misuse of premises in the city, CSE said that the committee found that 70-80 per cent structures had violated Building and Development Control Regulations.

The committee found that formalities required to obtain a building completion certificate or even a building plan sanctioned is "tedious" which is why the owners "seldom" procure them.

CSE said that in April 2011, the Delhi government made it mandatory for all builders to submit sanctioned building plans along with structural safety certificates for their new buildings which resulted in a drastic fall in the number of applicants for property registration and ultimately led to the revoking of the order.

Referring to a survey by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), CSE said that it was found that in the last 25 years more than 25,000 human fatalities were caused primarily by collapse of buildings during earthquakes.

"The condition and quality of Indian building stock is poor when it comes to seismic performance -- in fact, the observed performances of reinforced concrete (RC) buildings are highly unsatisfactory," Somvanshi said.

First Published: Mon, April 27 2015. 19:57 IST