The Meghalaya High Court has recalled the destruction that the 1897 earthquake had caused to Shillong leading to ove 1500 deaths and ordered demolition of additional floors beyond third floor of several multi-storeyed building in the state capital.
The judgment passed by justice T Nandakumar Singh also asked the CBI to identify those officials of the Meghalaya Urban Development Authoruty (MUDA) who were responsible for the “rampant irregularities” in granting permission for construction to these buildings and said they should not be allowed to go scott-free.
The high court also asked the CBI to find out from the records of MUDA, as to how many more such cases of illegal constructions presently existed in the city of Shillong, and identify the building owners/builders who had benefitted from such irregularities.
The judgment and order was passed while disposing a PIL filed by four lawyers of the Meghalaya capital in 2014, who contended that a number of high-rise buildings had come up in the city by flouting the building norms, especially in view of the high seismic location of Shillong.
While the high court has set a 15-day deadline for demolition of the additional floors beyond the third floor of the 21 buildings identified and specifically mentioned in the order, it asked the CBI to submit its report by October 15.
The high court particularly referred to the high seismic location of Shillong and recalled the earthquake of 1897 which had reduced the then capital of composite Assam to rubbles and killed over 1500 people.
“The earthquake of magnitude of 8.7 like the one in 1897 may happen any time. In case it so happens, the number of deaths will be several thousands as much of the multi-storied buildings are all constructed at the hill slope or in the gradient of the hill slope of loose soil. The emergence of multi-storied buildings within and around Shillong has increased the risk of earthquakes,” the high court said.