Capital on shaky grounds

The city falls in high-risk damage zone for earthquakes and the ill-planned buildings in many areas don't help the cause

First some facts: The Capital experienced two earthquakes in the last two weeks. According to Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA), Delhi comes under the fourth zone, which is the high-risk damage zone for earthquakes. The zone covers 17.60 per cent of the geographical area in our country. Based on that, DDMA claims an earthquake of magnitude 6.8 on the Richter scale can hit the city at any point of time, affecting approximately thirty lakh lives. Now a scary fact: As per the authority, if an earthquake hits Delhi at any point of time, it will be almost impossible to carry out a rescue operation. 

Delhi's full belly: The congested old Delhi areas are at risk. File pic

Fragile territory
According to DDMA, an earthquake will most severely hit parts of east and north-east Delhi, as the land in these areas is extremely fragile. Also, the haphazardly planned and constructed buildings in the city with intensify the damage. If such a thing were to happen, around 2,240,749 people from north-east Delhi and 1,707,725 from east Delhi will be badly affected.

"Not the earthquake, but the badly planned buildings will cause the casualties. We have, however, collaborated with the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and opened many earthquake centers with the proper equipment to launch rescue operations," said an official.

"All government buildings are earthquake resistant. But there are a lot of unauthorised colonies in Delhi. We can't demolish all of them. We have, however, given guidelines to all builders about how to make their buildings earthquake resistant," said Yogendra Chandolia, Standing Committee chairmen of MCD.

Prof K T Ravindran, Head of Department of Urban Design, School of Planning and Architecture, said, "A large part of the population in Delhi was living in unauthorised and unstructured buildings. All buildings in the Capital should be designed on the basis of National Building Code, which is legally binding. There are enough measures on paper but how well they are implemented is another issue."

"At the planning level, there is complete neglect of precautionary measures, which is a matter of concern. East Delhi and parts of west are quite vulnerable. South Delhi areas have broad-based and mostly one-storey buildings, constructed by structural engineers, and thus they are more or less a safe zone," said Ravindran.

Quake take
>> Delhi in fourth, high-risk damage, zone 
>> Earthquake of magnitude 6.8 on the Richter scale can hit the city any time
>> Such a quake will affect nearly thirty lakh lives

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