How quake resistant are Okhla buildings?
After feeling tremors on Friday night, many Okhla residents are now talking about safety of their buildings. Tremors were felt across north India in Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, the Delhi-NCR region, and Uttarakhand following a high-intensity earthquake which rattled Tajikistan.
There were no reports of any loss of life or damage to property.
However, what worry Okhla residents most is that Delhi lies in the high-risk seismic zone IV and many are concerned about their buildings in Okhla.
According to experts, the whole of Delhi, NCR, Noida and Gurgaon are vulnerable to earthquake.
Though no such official statistics is available for the Okhla locality but with most of the colonies being developed on the Yamuna riverbed residents are not sure how safe their buildings are.
Dr Amir Ali of the National Institute of Disaster Management, who lives in Abul Fazal Enclave, had once told the OT that the awareness among the people on the subject is nil.
“The area is highly vulnerable for reasons that the population density is high, construction is poor and there are no open spaces. Most of the buildings in the locality don’t follow the thumb rules. With the locality being unauthorised and no building construction control things have only gone from bad to worse,” he said.
Most of the builders in the area don’t follow the Bureau of Indian Standard (BIS) code. Above all what is more disturbing that there is no disaster management NGO working in the locality that could have created awareness among the people.
Okhla-based structural engineering expert said: “The growing unauthorised colonies are particularly vulnerable. The over-densification of the city is a dangerous trend, especially since no amount of precautions can save such settlements.”
The situation is worst in Okhla where residents before purchasing a house don’t care to find out about how sturdy the structure is. When the OT spoke with a few builders and engineers in the locality involved in construction work about building earthquake-resistant flats or houses they expressed their ignorance over the issue.
Okhla resident Waris Mazhari said: “All builders should be registered. Government should penalise them in case they don’t follow building bylaws. By not following the rule they are playing with the lives of millions of people.”