Delhi is fragile, especially at its seams, commonly known as the fault line. Designated in Zone IV, Delhi is situated atop three active seismic fault lines—Sohna, Mathura and Delhi-Moradabad. A cursory glance at the India Meteorology Department’s first level seismic hazard microzonation map of Delhi (Fig 1.) reveals a high hazard scenario in north, north-east and eastern part of Delhi. A multitude of studies, by researchers and scientists of eminent organisations, costing the country thousands of crores, point out safer areas in Delhi. One would assume that builders would be aware of hazard regions and would optimally utilise this information for safer homes and offices. However, that is not the case. Private builders neither heed the scientific zonations, nor do they follow building codes laid out by Bureau of Indian Standards. The outcome is ill-ventilated, over-crowded, fragile structures that house large number of poor and middle income groups.
Not wanting to be left behind, the Indian government too joined the builder bandwagon with an ultra-luxury apartment, the Commonwealth Games (CWG) Village, in the Yamuna flood plain, in the midst of the most hazard prone area of Delhi. In the process of being sold to the who’s who of India and abroad, this so called ‘most desirable place’ to live is a befitting example of how lightly the government heeds its own warnings.
What is in question here is the sheer impertinence of a government that seeks to educate the common man on an exact opposite—of not building on a flood plain, that too an earthquake prone one.
It is not as if sound construction cannot be made in earthquake prone areas. But, as per the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report (performance audit report on XIX CWG- 2010) that too was compromised. “Emaar MGF awarded most of the construction work to Ahluwalia Contracts (India) Limited. Central Building Research Institute-Roorkee (CBRI) was appointed as the third party independent quality inspection agency only in May 2008, by which time most of the foundation work had been executed. As such the CBRI was unable to assure the quality of the foundation laid. In our opinion, this is a serious lacuna, considering the site location and the height of the structure” – the Report said.
Delhi Development Authority (DDA) is all set to auction premium apartments at Commonwealth Games Village in June, 2015. The land owning agency will conduct an electronic auction and has fixed Rs 7 crore as the reserve price for the units. As per news reports, officials have also said that gauging the demand for these houses the final price will be much more. G’nY correspondent speaking with Manoj Misra, head, Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan, said, “we hold that CWG village in the flood plain is nothing short of a towering folly. An outright example of bad and poor planning, despite timely warnings from not just environmentalists but urban planners of repute like K T Ravindran. It was known all along that this site is flood prone and not fit for permanent constructions, certainly not high rises, which could tumble in the event of an earthquake hitting the seismic category IV city. No wonder that there are few takers for these so called prime location flats.
Governments may change, but the intent remains the same—profit. Looking towards earning a whopping 1000 crore from the sale of these flats, it is a clear example of how the present government lacks the conviction to implement its policies on disaster preparedness.