FAR Extensions in Group Housing Societies May Cause Earthquake Disasters

Click the Photo to Know About Corruption in Delhi Housing Societies. Photo: Rakesh Raman
Click the Photo to Know About Corruption in Delhi Housing Societies. Photo: Rakesh Raman

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in collaboration with the Delhi Government will conduct a mock exercise today to improve preparedness and response mechanisms of the local administration in the event of an earthquake. According to a government statement, the exercise will cover all the 11 districts of Delhi.

The exercise holds added importance because with the ambiguous Floor Area Ratio (FAR) rules of the government, many cooperative group housing societies are planning to expand their buildings haphazardly.

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The horizontal expansion of flats to add more rooms without strengthening the foundation in occupied group housing societies will make the buildings weak which will collapse, as they will not be able to bear even a mild earthquake. This will put to risk lives of hundreds of thousands of people living in Delhi’s group housing societies.

In the run-up to the mock exercise, a coordination conference and a table-top exercise were held with all the Deputy Commissioners to ensure the smooth facilitation of the exercise.

Preparedness measures required to be taken at individual, societal and institutional levels to minimise the effects of an earthquake were discussed in detail.

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NDMA experts briefed the stakeholders on the activation of Incident Response System (IRS), which attributes roles and responsibilities at each level to improve coordination.

The experts also created various disaster situations involving residential high-rise buildings, hospitals, schools, metro stations, shopping malls and petroleum depots and sought response plans from the participating officials. The responses were then analysed, shortcomings identified and improvements suggested.

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Officials from all stakeholder departments such as the Army, Health, Police, Firefighting, Civil Defense, Transport, Electricity, Public Relations and Traffic Control participated in the preparatory meetings.

This exercise is significant as Delhi is located in the high intensity seismic zone IV. It will also generate awareness among the local population who are the first responders in case of any disaster.

The Authority had organised a similar State-level earthquake preparedness exercise in Delhi in 2012.

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Rakesh Raman