90% of buildings in Delhi at risk of being hit by strong earthquake

28/Jul/2019 Anshi Rajkhowa, India Today


  • The Delhi High Court directed Delhi government to make an action plan
  • The MCD has now drafted a safety audit policy to protect the buildings from earthquakes
  • Safety audit of every building will be necessary and if ignored a fine will follow

People in Delhi are facing a grave danger.

The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) along with earthquake researchers believes that approximately 90 per cent of the building in Delhi are at risk of coming off during a strong earthquake incident.

According macro seismic zone mapping, India is divided into four zones and it includes Zone-2 from Zone-5.

Zone-5 is the most sensitive and Zone-2 is the least sensitive ie; Zone-5 is the area where the earthquake is most prone to occur and Zone-2 is the area where the probability of earthquake is the lowest.

In India, Zone-5 includes the Himalayan centre, the Rann of Kashmir and Kutch whereas Zone-4 includes the areas of Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir and Maharashtra.

Seismic Zone-4 is considered dangerous in terms of an earthquake.

There can be earthquakes of 7 to 7.9 magnitudes. Most of the houses in Delhi are not earthquake resistant. Also there are many illegal colonies flouting safety norms. If an earthquake of 7 or more than 7 magnitude hits Delhi, then the national capital can suffer huge losses.

The Delhi High Court directed Delhi government to make an action plan, after which Delhi government set up a committee in which South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) was also made a nodal agency for that.

The MCD has now drafted a safety audit policy -- to protect the buildings from earthquakes -- which have been sent to the Delhi government. According to this policy, safety audit of every building will be necessary, whether it is in regular colony or in an illegal colony. But importantly, the safety audit will have to be done by the people themselves and for this they will have to pay from their own pockets.

The MCD will also create a new website for the safety audit of the buildings on which the numbers of all the impeded structural engineers, disaster management officials and employees, MCD, Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and Central Public Works Department (CPWD) will be there.

There will also be a set deadline for safety audits.

If anyone wants a safety audit done, they can contact the number given on the website.

Safety certification of every building will also be issued after safety audit.

After safety audits, if a building is found to be weak, then the property owner will be given some days to strengthen its structure. During this, if the property owner does not take any action to strengthen the building, a fine can also be imposed and at the same time the building will also be evacuated. After that the building will be fully grounded.

Safety audits of buildings will be done in two phases.

In the first phase, safety audits of high-rise buildings will be conducted - 15 metres or more.

In the second phase, decision will been taken regarding the safety of the rest of the buildings. The MCD will soon issue this policy online so that it can be used for suggestions and objections by the people.

The whole matter will be heard in the Delhi High Court on July 31.

When asked about the entire matter, the Leader of the House in South Delhi Municipal Corporation -- Kamaljeet Sehrawat -- said, "It is very important that people conduct their own safety audits. We will give the people time so that they can do it."

When asked about how people in illegal colonies will do the the audit, she said, "There is a new technology that will be made available through which they can do their own safety audits."