Run-down houses at monsoon’s mercy

* Official says administration could only warn residents

* No measures taken to help residents even after deadline’s lapse

LAHORE: Thousands of people living in run-down houses face the constant threat of losing their lives during the monsoon season with the City District Government Lahore (CDGL) having no alternate facilities to offer.

Lahore District Coordination Officer (DCO) Sajjad Ahmad Bhutta had ordered all the town administrators to conduct a survey of the houses in deplorable conditions under their jurisdictions and save them from collapsing.

Although the town municipal officers (TMOs) partially complied with the DCO’s instructions and gathered details of such houses situated in their areas, they could not provide shelter or any alternative to the residents of these buildings.

Warn: “We can only survey and assess the condition of a building. We can warn the residents that their lives are at risk if we find any building not strong enough to survive rains but we cannot help them more than that,” one of the senior town administrators told Daily Times.

He said town administrations could only warn the residents of dilapidated buildings to either repair them or evacuate, but they could not give them any temporary shelter or assistance to fix the buildings.

“It is a technical hitch on our side. We realise that most of the residents of such buildings are poor and they would have already taken the alternative measures if they had any,” the officer said.

Data Gunj Bukhsh Town TMO Javed Rasheed Chohan told Daily Times that the town officials had already identified 242 dilapidated buildings in the town and they were still surveying to look for more such buildings.

Samanabad Town TMO Malik Imtiaz Awan said his subordinates had pointed out dozens of such buildings under their jurisdiction but they could not do anything else for the residents. He said the officials did not only warn the residents to evacuate such buildings but also tried to convince them of severe losses in case any building collapsed due to rain.

He said the town administrations were not empowered to provide substitutes to the people and their inability to help the public may take precious lives. The old and dilapidated houses are mostly present in the Walled City, Data Gunj Bukhsh Town, Ravi Town and parts of old Lahore.

A dozen people were injured as roofs of three houses caved in after a 45-minute long shower early on Wednesday while the roof of a railway inquiry building also collapsed.

Deadline: The DCO had asked all the town administrators to submit the details of dilapidated houses under their jurisdiction by Thursday but the CDGL revealed no further strategy or measures even after the deadline had passed. afnan khan

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=20097\27\story_27-7-2009_pg13_1

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