Vijay K. Saluja

Senior Fellow.Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi
Ex Chief Engineer[civil]-NDMC

There have been frenetic activities-in the print media, on various TV channels, in our local political circles & Delhi bureaucracy?! The following have been the captions of the stories related to this very sad event, in one of the prominent daily, which I subscribe to—
34 killed as 5-storeyed building in E Delhi falls
Narrow lanes delay rescue operation
There was no pillar, just wall,it had to collapse
House collapse toll 67,blame game begins
Many more tragedies waiting to happen
Owner added floors at will, officials winked-Govt wakes up after outrage.
Thieves on the prowl at site of tragedy, hospital
Rescuers go slow to avoid deathsSlums razed,they took shelter in house of death
How builder & corrupt official created A DEATH TRAP?
Embankments cannot save old riverbed land from flooding-Experts
Pumping out water may not help-IIT prof
At hospital, their hopes run into a wall
Only a fraction of illegal constructions face action.
He sent SMS from debris but could not be rescued
Short on staff,MCD failed to survey area.
The newpaper also printed photographs of some prominent leaders who visited the site , to be with the hapless?!
Various TV channels have since then, telecasting various related events at the site-visits of the CM, LG, other prominent leaders, bureaucrats, rescue operations, -heartrending stories of hapless, unfortunate Delhi –walas, who happened to be POOR-none of their fault & some of them perhaps recently evicted from the slums.
The prime place in this paper,& other papers & TV channels though is  being given to A.Raja & Spectrum story-top front page & with editorials!!
Newspapers published in other countries-Bangkok Times ,The Straits Times from Singapore etc etc have also reported abt the house collapse & abt corruption within the local governance!
The question which comes to my mind & perhaps everyone`s mind is/could be- what sort of society we are living in, what sort of local governance we have, what sort of bureaucrats, professionals, political persons, professional societies, police, we have, who wake up only, when there is massive human tragedy & soon thereafter go to sleep after doing mere lip service, to be woken up next by a bigger tragedy & the media & all, then will have more work to keep busy!!
During my school days, I  read a phrase `Nero was fiddling, when Rome burnt`
What phrase we should have now, to describe the current scenario in Delhi nay India?

What for are all these local bodies who have full fledged  civil engineering departments with unauthorized construction cells? Are their jobs meant to check unauthorized constructions in the city or to collude with the unauthorized construction builders? These buildings do not come up overnight but take months & years to build  after the sanctioned building plans. And building plan can only be sanctioned when mandatory requirements are met by the proposed construction & the requirements are many, as per the building bye-laws?!
As per the reports, sizable number of the colonies in Delhi are unauthorized.Construction of majority of the buildings  therein seems far below the prescribed specifications!!Interestingly, all the areas/colonies are under the jurisdiction of some officers of the local body as per the organization charts of the civil engineering/architect departments of the local body. Then, how all this development comes about over the years, does not require any research or survey.It is just evident authorized constuction in Delhi, is almost no one`s business?!
Surprisingly,I think, the same staff has jumped into action now, to evacuate the residents of so many adjoining unfit blocks!!
Where will those hapless evacuees with their young children ,old parents  some of them already aggrieved, due to loss of their kith & kin go, in this oncoming winter?
What is their fault?
We all need to find out answers & solutions soon for the  benefits of all  affected.
Of what use are all the local/ professional bodies , government & legislature, manned by experts & wise men?