`If Nepal-like earthquake hits Delhi, 90 percent people will be wiped out`

Expressing alarm over a report that a Nepal-like earthquake could wipe out 90 percent of the population here, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday rapped the Centre, the city government and municipal bodies, saying they were waiting for disasters to happen as only 10-15 percent buildings in the capital complied with the building bye-laws.

`If Nepal-like earthquake hits Delhi, 90 percent people will be wiped out`
Remains of the four-storey building which collapsed in the Vishnu Garden area of West Delhi on July 19, 2015. The Delhi government had accused the BJP-led SDMC of failing to ensure compliance with safety standards.

New Delhi: Expressing alarm over a report that a Nepal-like earthquake could wipe out 90 percent of the population here, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday rapped the Centre, the city government and municipal bodies, saying they were waiting for disasters to happen as only 10-15 percent buildings in the capital complied with the building bye-laws.

"An alarming situation was revealed through an affidavit that 25 percent of the buildings in the MCD areas fall under planned/approved area and 75 percent area is unplanned and unauthorised..."

"Out of this 25 percent, people later carry out more construction which is not permissible under law. It means only 10 to 15 percent comply with the building bye-laws," a bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva said.

It further said "this is an alarming situation and the concerned authorities (Centre, Delhi government and municipal bodies) are waiting for disasters to happen".

It observed that "since 75 percent of structures have come up without following the regulations, if an earthquake like the one in Nepal occurs here, the casualties would not be in thousands but 90 percent of Delhi's population will be wiped out."

The court made the observation after it was told by a civic body that about 75 percent of the buildings in Delhi have come up without complying with regulations, including those relating to structural stability.

It also observed that nine out of the ten houses will collapse if a major earthquake hit the national capital.

Noticing that during the hearing no one appeared on behalf of the Delhi government and the Centre too was mum over the steps taken to make city safe from natural hazards like earthquakes, the court directed them to file status reports on the policy with regard to the structural integrity of buildings, keeping in mind that Delhi fell in Seismic Zone IV.

Seismic Zone IV is a high damage risk zone which can expect the second highest level of earthquakes.

It said before September 23, the concerned authorities in their status reports shall indicate the action taken by them in ensuring that the structural integrity of the buildings in Delhi are in compliance with the National Building Code 2005 prescribed for Seismic Zone IV. The bench further said that the authorities have time to overcome such a situation but do not want to do anything.

The court was disappointed with the affidavit filed by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC), which had revealed such "alarming" data with regard to Delhi.
NDMC in its affidavit said that Delhi can be classified into planned area having approved colonies and unplanned area having unauthorised, regularised colonies, villages, unauthorised colonies, resettlement colonies, special areas and agricultural land.

It said the municipal body was planning to launch a public awareness programme wherein, people living in the building of about 30 or more years old will be asked to obtain structural fitness certificate for their buildings.

The court was hearing a PIL questioning how safe were the structures in the national capital if an earthquake, like that in Nepal, hits Delhi.

The PIL, filed by advocate Arpit Bhargava, also asked what action plans did the corporations have to tackle the threat.

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

The petition has also sought to know what action plan does the corporations have to tackle the issue. 

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