Government-appointed engineers in the Indian city of Hyderabad are making haste to identify unsound building structures in order to prevent the recurrence of disasters such as the recent City Light Hotel collapse.
Under the Comprehensive Building Structural Stability Policy, launched at the behest of Kiran Kumar Reddy, chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, and Krishna Babu, commissioner of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), teams of engineers and urban planners will inspect the structural integrity of buildings located in the Andhra Pradesh capital of Hyderabad over the next week.
If buildings are found to be structurally defective, the teams will order their immediate evacuation and sealing. State offices will not be exempt from the sweeping inspections, which will include the Hyderabad collectorate, the GHMC office at Sardar Mahal and the Hyderabad police commissioner's office at Purana Haveli.
This concerted drive to identify Hyderabad's dilapidated and hazardous building structures has been prompted by the fatal City Light Hotel collapse at the start of the week which left at least 13 people dead and 20 more injured.
According to eyewitness reports, the disaster occurred in the small hours of the morning, with the building emitting load creaking noises before abruptly collapsing into a pile of dust-shrouded rubble.
Patrons and employees of the hotel on the ground floor were able to flee the premises before the building collapsed, while those unfortunate enough to be on the first and second floors were trapped in the rubble.
According to urban planning officials from the GHMC, the collapse was caused by unapproved renovations to the internal structure of the building, which was considered a long-standing local landmark.
Babu said the round of week-long building inspections launched in response to the disaster would focus on buildings with certain structural characteristics.
"Buildings that were constructed with lime mortar, load-bearing walls and buildings constructed more than 50 years ago would be inspected by joint teams. The building would be opened only after getting clearances by the structural engineers," he said.
The GHMC chief added that as many 307 buildings inspected during pre-monsoon checks have been identified as dilapidated, of which 33 have already been razed, with the remaining 274 still awaiting demolition.