An alarming revelation made by the Town and Country Planning Minister Mohinder Singh about the buildings in the town of Himachal Pradesh. The minister said that there are less then two percent buildings that can survive earthquakes of higher intensities.

The fact came to light in the recently-concluded monsoon session of the state assembly. Town and Country Planning Minister Mohinder Singh, while replying to a question asked by Congress member Anil Kumar Aug 30, said that only 1.52 percent buildings of Shimla are safe and not prone to earthquakes.

‘A large number of buildings in Shimla are liable to damage in a high-intensity quake,’ Singh said in a written reply to the question: ‘Whether it’s a fact that most buildings in Shimla are earthquake-prone.”

According to the surveys, 78.64 percent of the buildings fall in category A, followed by 12.96 percent in category B, 6.88 percent in category C and 1.52 percent in category X.

The buildings categorized as A are those made of mud, adobe and random stones. These are liable to suffer partial damage in the wake of quakes of magnitude 8. B category buildings are made of large blocks and poor quality of timber. These are liable to develop deep cracks. C types are reinforced buildings that will develop only small cracks while X category structure are totally safe.

The Minister affirmed the state falls in the seismic zone IV and V having severe seismic sensitivity. However, Shimla, once the “British summer capital”, falls in zone IV. The minister also stated that no specific study or date is available that reflects on the earthquake vulnerability of the buildings.

Minister said that ‘There is a vulnerability atlas for the country based on a building census for the year 1991 for Shimla. As per the census, only 1.52 percent buildings are safe.’ At present, Shimla has 187 buildings with more than five floors. These include a 12-storey commercial building being constructed by Jagson International Ltd, an eight-storey building of Oberoi group’s five-star hotel Cecil and a 10-storey building of the Himachal Pradesh High Court.

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