Earthquake aftermath: apex builders association plans stock-taking session

Updated - November 16, 2021 05:05 pm IST

Published - May 12, 2015 03:45 pm IST - Kolkata:

It has been over a fortnight since the April earthquake, but 80-year old Srijata Sen is still unable to return to her house, nor overcome the trauma she felt as her 17-storied apartment swayed like a tree during the tremor.

She is now living with her sister at a small house nearby. As pathetic as hers is the plight of 27-year-old Susan D’Souza. Alarmed by the impact of the temblor in her 14th floor apartment, she ran down the flights of stairs clutching her new-born.

Ms. Sen and Ms. D Souza are among the people, who are questioning their wisdom in moving into high-rise apartments in an area that is classified as ‘moderately to highly-active seismic zone’. The fresh wave of jolts felt today has not done anything to assuage their fears about living in a high-rise in such a zone.

The memories of the April 25 came back to haunt the city on May 11 as people in high rises and old houses alike trooped out as earthquake shook the city once again.

For builders these zones are categorised by the 2007 BIS Earthquake Code. While Kolkata, parts of Bihar, UP, Jharkhand and parts of Gujarat are in the moderately active seismic zone, the sub-Himalayan areas, Delhi, parts of Gujarat and the Sundarban delta fall in the high-risk zone.

What steps does a builder take to ensure that the structural strength of the high-rises can withstand earthquakes ?

The Hindu spoke to the chief of CREDAI, the confederation of real estate developers association of India and the apex association of builders to probe into these issues. The president of CREDAI Bengal Sushil Mohta said: “ It is important that a proper foundation is laid and the building is framed. We ensure that project designs are vetted and approved by qualified structural engineers, in addition to architects, to augment the mandatory safety norms. In India, buildings are designed according to the National Building Code… the guidelines are already in place”, he said.

Has the fear translated into cancellations of bookings? Not yet, says Mr. Mohta. Kolkata has witnessed rumblings in the past but Saturday’s quake was the strongest in memory and one that was the scariest for high-rise occupants. However, no trend towards cancellation of bookings in upcoming high rise projects has been noticed as yet. “It is too early to observe such a trend.. but only rarely such incidents translate into complete resistance to high rises. What consumers look for is the credibility of the developer and whether he has conformed to guidelines and protocols”, he said adding that CREDAI members who represent nearly 80 per cent of the state’s realtors have surveyed their buildings and no serious damage has been reported.

CREDAI is also planning to have a brainstorming session in mid May to take stock of the current scenario and plot the way forward, he said. This is important to restore people’s confidence. (names of earthquake sufferes have been changed on request).

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