The collapse of the structurally-weak City Light Hotel, located on the busy RP Road in Secunderabad last Monday resulted in the death of 17 persons and injuries to scores of others.
And then, on Friday late night, an old building in Mangalhat caved in due to heavy rain resulting in the death of a woman and injuries to several others. These incidents are just the tip of an iceberg. A subsequent survey carried out by the
Town Planning and Engineering teams of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), identified as many as 596 old and dilapidated buildings which could collapse any time.
Of them, the corporation officials could hardly demolish about 150 structures until last Friday. The remaining 446 old and dilapidated buildings remain to be demolished.
Meanwhile, these structurally-weak buildings continue to pose a threat to the lives of those still residing in them.
These old and dilapidated buildings are mostly located in several localities of Old City like Begum Bazar, Mangalhat and Puranapul, Attapur, Rajendra Nagar, Tolichowki, Sultan Bazar, Feelkhana, Uppal, Alwal, Malkajgiri, Qutbullapur, Secunderabad and several other localities.
Many of these buildings are over 50 years old and have been built with load-bearing valves (LBV) instead of pillars and using lime mortar in place of cement. GHMC Chief City Planner GV Raghu told Express that the old structures which were structurally weak were being demolished with the help of the local police. The GHCM was also taking steps for getting the anti-demolition cases pending in different courts vacated at the earliest. ‘’Out of the 596 structures identified as fit for demolition , so far the GHMC could demolish about 150 in the last four days and the process would go on’’, he added.
Earlier, GHMC Commissioner M T Krishna Babu said that many of the old buildings could not be demolished due to court litigations between owners and tenants. In some cases, the owners had come forward to repair the old structures, he added. In the case of commercial buildings which needed strengthening and minor repairs, the owners would be asked to do it without delay. Such buildings would remain shut until the needful was done. There would be third party inspections by Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU). Only after their approval, the safe and sound old buildings would be allowed to run businesses, Babu added.
BUILDING POLICY: After the City Light Hotel mishap, Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy asked the officials concerned to evolve a comprehensive building structural stability policy.
On the lines of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation, the state government proposes to bring amendments to the GHMC Act. In Mumbai, for buildings which have completed 30 years, the owners have to get structural stability approved by empanelled engineers.
The state would take a decision on whether it should be 30 years or 50 years in Hyderabad for obtaining structural stability report, the commissioner said. With the arrival of the monsoon, dilapidated buildings might cave in which might result in the loss of life and property. It was better to vacate such premises, he added. The tenants and owners of the identified old buildings should vacate the premises and cooperate with the officials in demolishing the structures which was being done in public interest, he said.
Krishna Babu wanted the citizens to lodge complaints regarding dilapidated buildings in their area through GHMC toll free call centre ie, 155304 to avoid mishaps and also of lives during monsoon season.
He directed the zonal commissioners to check the dilapidated buildings listed out last year and whose owners had given undertakings for strengthening them.
ROOF TOP CELL TOWERS: Rooftop cell towers and advertisement hoardings atop thousands of buildings in the Twin Cities also pose a threat to the buildings. According to GHMC officials, there are 3,500 to 4,000 cellular rooftop towers here. The third party quality checks conducted by engineering colleges like JNTU, Osmania, NIT, CBIT, Civil Aid ( PL CHECK THIS) and others have found that at least 20 per cent of the cell towers are unsafe as their structural stability is weak and suggested their removal from the buildings. But, unfortunately, no action could be taken by the GHMC in this regard as many of the mobile companies have approached the courts on various issues like license fee, etc.
HOARDINGS: The city is dotted with hoardings on the rooftops of many buildings which pose a threat to the safety of the buildings. As per the figures of the GHMC, there are such 2,683 permitted hoardings and 131 unauthorised hoardings in the Twin Cities. The GHMC removed 468 unauthorised hoardings last year and still 131 are existing, There are many more hoardings without Advertisement Identification Number (AIN).