Hundreds of old and dilapidated buildings in Chittoor and Kadapa districts seem to be awaiting the fate of Secunderabad’s City Light Hotel, which had collapsed recently and claimed 18 lives. In Tirupati town, which sees a huge pilgrim crowd everyday, there are 130 private, government and TTD buildings which are prospective death traps as they are on the verge of collapse. Municipal authorities, who have identified the buildings, are in the process of issuing notices to the owners of the buildings for demolishing them. The vulnerable buildings include the old and dilapidated TTD choultries in which hundreds of pilgrims are being provided accommodation every day. Perhaps coincidentally, the TTD board in its in Saturday’s meeting decided to demolish such choultries and construct a new complex.
The other old and dilapidated buildings include several private ones in the old town areas, including the Gandhi Road. In Chittoor Municipal Corporation limits, the number of old and dilapidated buildings which are on the verge of collapse is much higher.
“We have identified and issued notices to the owners of 167 private buildings and 21 government buildings which are dangerous for occupation,’’ Chittoor municipal commissioner Sachidananda Verma told the Express.
Official inaction was clearly seen just five months back when, on February 14 this year, a three-storeyed structure collapsed on the Church Street killing one person and injuring two others. The administration immediately identified 36 such old structures and issued notices to their owners but have taken no action against them so far. It was only after the City Light Hotel collapse incident that the municipal commissioner and local MLA CK Jayachandra Reddy took the initiative once again and identified the vulnerable buildings. The buildings include the Collector’s Camp Office, the old Collector office (which was constructed during the East India Company era and in which several departments are still functioning), the district registrar’s Office and the 158-year-old government school.
“At the District Development Review Committee meeting held in November last year, in-charge minister K Parthasarathy assured the members that the school building would be renovated/repaired but nothing has been done in this regard’’ an officer said. Similarly in Palamaneru, a total number of 69 old and dilapidated government and private buildings have been identified as fit for demolition.
Of the seven municipalities in the Chittoor Urban Area, 800 private and 85 government buildings have been identified and issued notices. But, follow-up action is still awaited.
The situation is almost the same in Kadapa district, with Kadapa municipal corporation officials identifying 13 buildings and issuing notices to them for demolition. Prominent among them are the Gandharva and Pratap lodges and several other municipal buildings. In the basement of Pratap lodge, several commercial establishments, including a medical shop and a bakery, are running.
“The human and property loss will be unimaginable, if such an old and weak structure caves in,’’ said an official.
Owners of the old and dilapidated buildings, however, are reluctant to demolish them and continue to run their businesses or dwell in them. Municipal officials said that though some of the buildings had been constructed less than 50 years ago, they were now in a dangerous state as they had been constructed without pillars and by using lime instead of cement.