Building collapse nightmare for local residents

Friday, November 19, 2010

NEW DELHI - Even four days after the building collapse in east Delhi, three-year-old Asthmi still shivers on hearing a small thud and starts weeping. It’s not just her, but the accident has also turned into a nightmare for other residents of the area.

The collapse Monday of the illegal five-storey building in Lalita Park left 69 people dead and 82 injured and rendered many homeless.

When IANS spoke to residents in and around the area, they said the incident had created endless fear and was a wakeup call for them. Many have started to check the structural capabilities of their buildings as some of them are 10 to 15 years old. They are also trying to drain out the flood water lying for months in the basements.

One of the reasons being cited for the building collapse is that flood waters of the Yamuna river flowing close by had collected in the basement and weakened its structure.

Seema Sharma, prinicipal of the Manisha Public School that is half a kilometre from the collapsed building, said: “I don’t want to take a chance with hundreds of children studying in the school. Soon after the mishap, I asked an engineer to check the school building and he told me that water is stagnating in the basement. So I have asked him to pump out the water, but if it seeps back in I don’t know what to do.”

Naresh Kumar, 50, a resident of the area for over 25 years said: “It is matter of life and death. I cannot imagine myself in the same position as those people (in the collapsed building) with my children on the road. This house is the only posession I have. I have used a pump to drain out the water, but this is not a permanent solution. I don’t know what to do.”

Ghulam Gose said that if the incident had happened a month earlier he wouldn’t have moved into the area but now he can’t shift out and is beset with fear and uncertainity every day.

A chief engineer of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) also threw up his hands.

“I have no clue. It’s difficult to suggest a permanent solution for this problem. The residents of these areas live in a choice-less state of existence. Even if they pump out the water, it might again seep in as the structures are built near the Yamuna.”

Another official pointed out that the MCD engineering department does not have structural engineers who are trained to conduct the tests that have been ordered on the other buidlings in the area where the collapse occurred.

The corporation has no expert engineers so the 38 buildings to be surveyed will be examined by a team of MCD civil engineers. The survey will be a mere eyewash as they are not competent,” the official said, speaking condition of anonymity.

The MCD says it has sought help from the Central Building Research Institute (CBRI), Roorkee, for the survey.

Filed under: Accidents and Disasters

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