Gurugram residents in throes of housing safety woes

After a portion of 18-storey Chintels Paradiso building collapsed killing two, NBCC’s Green View Society has also been declared “unsafe” and the developer has been told to provide alternate accommodation

Where is housing sector heading to? It’s not the private builders only who are taking people for a ride and duping them of their life’s savings, now it is the government’s own Navratna company NBCC that has proved to be equally bad. After a portion of 18-storey Chintels Paradiso building in Gurugram collapsed killing two, it is the turn of NBCC’ Green View Society at Gurugram to be declared “unsafe”.

Hundreds of homeowners held a hunger strike and protest march on February 20 seeking justice for residents of Chintels Paradiso, the housing society where multiple ceilings of a building caved in on February 10, killing two women.  Besides the two women killed,
several others were trapped under the rubble when the floor of a sixth-floor apartment of the 18-storey Chintels Paradiso building collapsed and the debris fell right through the subsequent floors to the first floor of the building trapping four members of two families
staying on the first and second floors.

NBCC building unsafe too

While focus was on Chintels Paradiso, Deputy Commissioner Nishant Kumar Yadav recently directed the residents of NBCC Green View in Sector 37 D, to vacate the condominium by March 1 citing that the residential complex is no longer safe to live in. He also directed the developer of NBCC to provide alternative accommodation to the residents till they carry out the repairs and bear the cost of transportation, shifting and rentals. He said it has come to the fore that the fault lies with NBCC and the contractor. He said the report given by IIT Delhi regarding the structure of the building would be shared with the residents. The second expert committee, comprising four members from Central Power Research Institute (CPRI) and IIT Roorkee, will also submit its report soon.

The DC disclosed that he has directed NBCC –National Building Construction Corporation, a Government of India enterprise — to refund the money to all the homebuyers, who do not wish to live in the society, with interest, so that they can buy new properties.

According to the reports of the district town planner and other experts, the building is not safe for residents. Currently, 140 families live in the residential complex.

R Mohanty, president of NBCC Green View Apartment Owners Association, said that the NBCC Green View housing complex was completed in May 2017 and cracks in the building started appearing from the very next year., said they have been raising issues with the condominium’s structural safety for the last four years but to no avail. It is shocking to see how a society with 700-800 flats could deteriorate in four to five years.

Randhir Singh, general secretary of NBCC Green View Apartment Owners Association, said they do not want to take repaired apartments and will opt for new properties with the refund that they will get from the developer. Chairman and managing director of NBCC P K Gupta said the corporation will take full responsibility as the flats have been constructed by

Chintels Paradiso

In the case of Chintels Paradiso, the District Town and Country Planner has declared four more towers at Chintels Paradiso- E, F, G, and H unfit for living. It has started repairing and renovating 40 apartments in four towers of Chintels Paradiso in Sector 109 to shift families whose apartments were damaged when multiple ceilings in Tower D collapsed.

The residents have demanded a thorough probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and urged authorities to take action against the developer and officials responsible for the tragic incident. They have sought the “immediate arrest” of the promoters and directors of Chintels India Limited and the government officials who issued occupancy certificates for the apartments.

Rakesh Hooda, President of the residents’ welfare association of Chintels Paradiso society,  alleged that the “Police is being soft with the sections in the FIR. Book them for murder and get an independent inquiry done.”  However, it is learnt that the police is still awaiting for the department of town and country planning to release the structural audit report that will cite the reasons for the mishap, and will then take action in accordance with the law. It has collected samples from the damaged structure and sent them to the forensic
science laboratory in Madhuban.

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal has ordered a structural audit of the affected tower of Chintels Paradiso group housing society in Gurugram’s Sector 109 by the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi to detect defects in design or workmanship during construction. The CM
observed that some other group housing societies in the vicinity too had shown signs of structural damage at an early stage and  the Town and Country Planning Department has been asked to identify these buildings based on the complaints received from the Resident Welfare Associations or any other agency. He said the local administration has been directed to provide alternate temporary accommodation to all affected families of this tower as they were scared to stay.

The CM ordered that the Town and Country Planning Department should take action against all directors of Chintels India Limited, Chintels Exports Private Limited, structural engineers, architects and contractors who constructed the residential tower and the resident who had carried out additional construction work on the sixth floor. The police has been asked to register an FIR with immediate effect.  It was also learnt that the government has now, in principle, decided that apart from the structural engineers appointed by the builders,
the Town and Country Planning Department should also get structural audit done by government institutions of repute or by the structural engineers empanelled by them before giving the Occupation Certificate.

Court’s rap on Housing Board’s knuckles

In a related development, rapping the Haryana Housing Board for being “remiss” in its functioning, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has summoned its Chief Administrator. He was asked to be present in person in a case where an ex-serviceman deposited the requisite amount nearly seven years ago for the allotment of a dwelling unit in a scheme floated as a “token of gratitude for exemplary sacrifices” made for the nation, only to be told later that there was no planning for the construction of flats in the area.  To make matters worse, the housing board insisted that refund to the petitioner-ex-serviceman would be permitted only upon the forfeiture of 10 per cent of the deposited amount, compelling the High Court to observe it was appalled at the stand. The Bench of Justice Tejinder Singh Dhindsa and Justice Lalit Batra asserted that it was not a solitary case. Rather, a bunch of writ petitions raising similar grievances were pending before the court.

The matter was brought to the High Court’s notice after Raj Pal Singh Gahlaut filed a petition through counsel Vivek Khatri against the Housing Board and another respondent.Taking up the matter, the Bench observed that nothing fructified and the petitioner had been running from pillar to post, and even served upon the respondents a legal notice, seeking the refund of the deposited amount.

Going into the background of the matter, the Bench observed that the petitioner was successful in the draw of lots for the allotment of a flat in Faridabad’s Sector 65 in December 2014 and deposited Rs 4, 89,270 in March 2015.

The Bench also took note of the categorical averments in the petition that the petitioner-ex-serviceman applied for a loan to raise the funds and was paying regular EMIs to service the debt. “It is the Housing Board which has been remiss in the matter. Till date, there is
no planning to put the project on the ground insofar as Sector 65, Faridabad, is concerned,” the Bench asserted.

Earthquake prone

According to experts, Gurugram is at a higher risk than Delhi because while Delhi sits on top of three active seismic fault lines, Gurugram sits at 7, making it the riskiest area in the NCR. If any of these become active, it can cause an earthquake of up to 7.5 magnitude. It was in 2015 when repeated tremors had led to panic amongst the high-rise dwellers and then the administration had ordered a safety audit. The plan never materialized, though a decision was taken that every builder would submit an earthquake safety certificate, ensuring the building was being made as per the disaster management mandate.
This, however, never took off.  It was in 2020 when the Delhi NCR was hit by 17 earthquakes in three months. The entire city falls under the seismic zone 4. Apart from the Jaipur depression, many normal faults pass through Gurugram. The major tectonic features in Gurgaon district include Sohna Fault, Moradabad Fault, Delhi-Moradabad Fault, Delhi-Haridwar Fault, junction of Aravalli and Alluvium near Delhi.

Being in Seismic Zone 4, an advisory was issued to mandatorily consult a structural engineer in this regard in the year 2020, but nothing happened.