Shimla building collapse: Himachal government sets up probe panel

Tribune News Service
Shimla, October 1

The Himachal Government on Friday constituted a fact-finding committee to look into the reasons for the collapse of a seven-storeyed building in Kachi Ghatti area of the town besides making recommendations to prevent recurrence of such mishaps.

The committee comprising Commissioner, Shimla Municipal Corporation (SMC), Deputy Commissioner (Shimla) and Director, Town and Country Planning (TCP) department has been asked to submit their report on the cause for the collapse by October 7.

"The committee has also been asked to make recommendations to ensure that such incidents do not happen again. Besides, they can rope in any experts in case they feel their opinion is required," said Rajneesh, Secretary, TCP, and Urban Development. He added that the Government has taken very serious note of the incident and all corrective measures would be taken to ensure that such mishaps are averted in the future.

The seven-storeyed building had been granted approval by the Special Area Development Authority (SADA) in 2003 and this area of Kachi Ghattiu along with other parts was merged into Shimla MC in 2006. "On bare perusal of the record, permission was granted by SADA for a six storied structure. The three member committee will look into all other aspects which led to the collapse," remarked Ashish Kohli, Commissioner, Shimla Municipal Corporation.

A seven storied building collapsed in Kacha Ghatti area yesterday following the foundation being weakened due to seepage of water. Though, there was no loss of life as the building had been evacuated but the collapse has posed a threat to the adjoining buildings some of which have developed cracks.

The incident comes within a week of the rap from NGT in its order on September 13, 2021, where it rejected the state government's plea to allow construction of a lift, ramp for physically disabled, visitors room and parking at the secretariat, here, which are all in advanced stages of execution.

In fact, out of the over 25,000 unauthorised constructions in the state, awaiting regularisation, most are located in Shimla (Urban), Shimla (Rural), and Kasumpti assembly segments which constitute the Shimla Planning Area. The fact that the state capital, the summer capital of British India, is still expanding on the basis of the 1979 Interim Development Plan (IDP) speaks volumes of the scant regard being paid towards regulated and planned growth.

Old-timers point out that Kachi Ghatti as the name suggests has come up on loose strata of debris dumped during construction activity in the main town. The area is right at the entrance to the town after Sankat Mochan temple and several high-rise buildings have come up here despite the area not being suitable for such heavy structures.

The incident has exposed the haphazard construction activity, though majorly curbed by the National Green Tribunal order, banning all new construction in the Core and Green Zone and restricting new buildings in other parts to merely two-and-a half storeys. The Himachal government is desperate to provide relief to people by seeking relaxation from the NGT with regard to restricting constructions to two-and-a half storeys besides providing respite to owners of the unauthorised structures, built in violation of the TCP Act, 1977.

Courtesy: Tribune News Service
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