Disaster mitigation in face of calamities key area in Master Plan Delhi-2041

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New Delhi, Jun 10 (PTI) Disaster mitigation in the face of earthquakes, pandemics and other natural calamities is one of the key areas highlighted in the draft Master Plan Delhi-2041, which stresses that the coronavirus situation has brought the focus on the need to create 'self-contained areas'.

The draft master plan, which has been placed in the public domain to invite objections and suggestions from common citizens, will facilitate Delhi's development by assessing the present condition and guiding how to achieve the desired development over the next 20 years. It has been prepared by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA).

The proposal says that Delhi falls in seismic zone four and is at high risk of earthquake incidents of fire outbreaks and flooding. High built densities, poor quality and age of built stock further increases the vulnerability.

'The COVID-19 pandemic brought into focus the need to create self-contained and mixed-use areas with decentralised infrastructure,' it says.

The plan also proposes the promotion of active travel as a mobility choice to ensure social distancing in the times of disease outbreaks or pandemics.

It stresses that the national capital has to develop resilient systems that can withstand, respond to, adapt and recover in the event of unpredictable disasters, shocks, chronic stresses.

Highlighting how the impact of risks like disease outbreaks and other natural calamities increases manifold in Delhi, the draft says the intrinsic issues such as presence of a large number of dense unplanned areas with dilapidated or poor building stock and high densities makes the city highly vulnerable to disasters as these areas are likely to bear large losses in terms of life and property at the time of any such event.

Laying down the plan for tackling pandemics, it suggests promotion of mixed use development and vertical mixing of compatible uses within plots, facilitating availability of all services, work centres and homes within close vicinity of each other.

'This will facilitate self-sufficient isolation zones as required.” “Decentralised workspaces shall be promoted in the form of co-working spaces, shared workspaces within slum rehabilitation projects, support for home-based work, etc. Additionally common community spaces shall be promoted to be utilised for providing refuge spots, common kitchens, quarantine spaces etc., at the time of emergency,' the plan says.

Development of large green areas, mandatory creation of open areas, through planned regeneration, will support requirements of social distancing during pandemics, while providing an active public realm during normal times, it says.

It also says that promotion of development of adequate affordable rental or ownership housing options for the poor, worker housing, hostels for women and men, etc will reduce crowding within dwelling units and support migrant housing in the city.

'The plan facilitates creation of multi-facility plots (particularly in dense unplanned areas) that can be used temporarily repurposed along with other government facilities during times of disaster.

“Better habitat design and green rated developments shall be promoted to reduce the dependence on mechanical ventilation systems, which pose a threat during air-borne epidemics,' it says.

In order to reduce vulnerability and minimise the damage to life and property caused by earthquakes, the plan proposes dedicated structural audits across the city, prioritisation of structural/safety audit as defined by the central government in high risk zones, vulnerable localities, public buildings with high footfall, buildings with response units (fire, police, integrated control centres etc.), and essential infrastructure.

'The safety audit protocol shall provide details of procedure and parameters for the audit, frequency of the audit and information for strengthening and retrofitting buildings. Structural design of all new buildings and structures shall adhere to the guidelines for seismically compliant buildings as per UBBL,' it says.

The plan also suggests adoption of base isolation, hydraulic dampeners and other such structural features by concerned agencies to make critical infrastructure of transport, water, fuel etc, seismically resilient.

Talking about minimising fire risks in the city, it says that all buildings with functions involving highly inflammable material shall get mandatory clearance from the Fire Department and adopt safety precautions.

'The Delhi Electric Vehicle Policy, 2020 by GNCTD, for promoting electrical vehicles needs to be reinforced with clear guidelines regarding storage, charging, use, and disposal of EV batteries, which are a potential fire hazard,' it adds.

The frequency and intensity of urban flooding and water logging has been on a steady rise in Delhi, due to rapid urbanisation. This is likely to worsen due to climate change impacts, the draft says.

Strategies for augmenting the green cover and water -- sensitive urban development -- shall be taken up, it says, while stating that all natural and engineered drains shall be kept free of obstructions and encroachments with regular desilting and disposal of silt of drains.

'Local bodies may earmark certain parks and gardens in flood prone areas to serve as flood detention sinks as identified in the Drainage Master Plan of the Department of Irrigation and Flood Control,' it adds. PTI SLB AQS AQS

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