High Court Issues Notice To Delhi Govt Over Earthquake Stability Orders

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The Delhi High Court on Tuesday issued a notice on a contempt plea filed against Chief Secretary of Delhi, Commissioners of three municipal corporations of Delhi, Chief of New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) and Chairman Delhi Development Authority(DDA) for allegedly non-compliance of Court’s earlier order relates to seismic stability of buildings in Delhi.

The petitioner Advocate Arpit Bhargava through a petition sought a direction to take coercive steps (in terms of the Contempt of Court Act) against respondents for their alleged lackadaisical approach in taking steps in a time-bound manner in order to save the people of Delhi from an impending Earthquake.

The petition alleged that respondents have no regard to the orders passed by this Court and to comply with the directions issued by this Court from time to time in the present matter.

The Bench of Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan after hearing the submission made by Petitioner Advocate Arpit Bhargava sought the response of all the respondents and slated the matter for January 29 for further proceedings. The fresh application was filed in an old pending public interest litigation (PIL) pending since 2015.

The court earlier too expressed its unhappiness with the Delhi government and civic bodies over the lack of implementation of an action plan related to seismic stability of Delhi buildings.

The court earlier directed all Commissioners of Civic bodies to file affidavits explaining what the plan to deal with an earthquake is and how it is to be implemented on an urgent basis. The Court had also directed them to make citizens aware of the precautions that have to be taken and the action plan of goverment.

The petition sought directions to the respondents to act in a time-bound manner and apprise this court about the steps taken and intended to be taken in case a major earthquake strikes Delhi in the near future.

The Delhi government, in an affidavit, told the High Court that all the five Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) are directed to ensure compliance of the action plan notified by the Department in letter and spirit including to complete the Structural Safety Audit, detailed survey to identify the unsafe buildings, empanel the structural engineers, identify the high-risk buildings for ascertaining requirement of retrofitting and would classify the buildings, on the basis of the year of construction, in their respective jurisdiction in a time-bound manner.

It added that all the ULBs are directed further that all new building plans should be sanctioned as per the action plan notified by the Department and to submit their respective disaster management plan & incorporating therein details of rescue centres, details of required logistics at the time of the earthquake, detailed action plan in case of earthquake and list of to whom specific work is assigned.

The government’s affidavit also informed the court about the statement of BK Bansal, Director, National Centre for Seismology related to the seismic history of Delhi and its vicinity, the occurrence of minor earthquakes in Delhi-NCR, which according to Bansal was not unusual.

Bansal had stated that “there is no need to panic with respect to these tremors, as they do not indicate any likelihood of a high magnitude event. However, there is no proven technology in the world wherein earthquakes are predicted with certainty in terms of its location, time, and magnitude. Therefore, it is important to undertake preparedness and mitigation measures to reduce the earthquake risk”.

NDRF had mentioned in the meeting that it is equipped with the ‘Collapsed Structure to Search and Rescue’ equipment, debris removal equipment, concrete cutters to deal with SAR operations after an earthquake.

Earlier, SDMC also told the High Court that public notice will be issued in the leading newspapers for the owners of all educational buildings, institutional buildings, assembly buildings, hospitals, malls, cinema halls and all other buildings having height more than 15 M for getting their buildings structurally audited from the empanelled structural engineers and submit structural audit report with existing building plan to the concerned Executive Engineer (Building) within six months.

The contempt petition today submits that Petitioners have been pursuing the present PIL for the last 5 years without yielding any success and therefore trusting respondents in such sensitive matter will be nothing but a travesty of justice and thus, petitioners plead the Court to immediately intervene in the larger public interest.

It also added that despite the passing of the order dated February 9, 2016, and May 1, 2019, and subsequent orders in this PIL respondents are not complying with orders of the Court thereby attempting to cause an obstruction in the due course of judicial proceedings as well as a tendency to impede, obstruct and interfere with the administration of justice and thus, are liable to be punished in accordance with the law.

Source: ANI

(The story has been published from a wire feed without modifications to the text. Only the heading has been changed)

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