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Seismic Retrofit of Key Delhi Buildings

Engineers gained on-the-job experience to design and install retrofit solutions for a large school, which cost less than to rebuild and became a model.


Expert advisors review retrofit construction of an office building with a police control room in the basement at Delhi Divisional Commissioner's Office Complex.


Delhi, the capital of India, is in seismic zone IV, which has the second highest risk level in India. When the next earthquake strikes, many “lifeline” buildings (important facilities) could suffer damage. This would limit the government’s ability to deliver critical services in a crisis. Delhi government engineers lacked the experience to design or oversee seismic strengthening of buildings. 


In hands-on projects, we taught and mentored Delhi Public Works Department engineers how to assess seismic vulnerability and design retrofit solutions that would make lifeline buildings perform better in an earthquake. US professionals from the private, public, academic, and non-governmental sectors paired up with Indian counterparts to develop solutions. A peer review panel of Indian and American experts mentored the local engineers and officials who carried out the retrofit work.


We worked with Delhi government officials to select five lifeline buildings: the Delhi Secretariat, the Delhi Police Headquarters, Ludlow Castle School, several buildings at Guru Tegh Bahadur (GTB) Hospital, and the Delhi Divisional Commissioner’s Office. Each represented a different local building type or use, and each needed a different retrofit approach. 

The engineering peer review panel visited the project buildings, made technical decisions, reviewed construction documents and quality control plans, and inspected construction. They toured experimental facilities at the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, as well as several Delhi Public Works Department projects under construction. Indian experts came to California to tour retrofitted buildings and meet with US earthquake engineering experts. The panel mentored Delhi Public Works Department engineers as they assessed each building and determined the most feasible retrofit. 


Delhi Public Works Department engineers became more capable earthquake engineers, and a “circle” for seismic retrofits was formed in the agency. Local professionals learned how to identify earthquake vulnerabilities in buildings and how to make the buildings more safe. They learned immediate solutions such as securing items that could fall and endanger people, and they learned to plan for disruption of normal operations during retrofit construction. 

The retrofit solutions in Delhi can be replicated in buildings of a similar type throughout India and other countries. Two of the retrofit solutions below, at Ludlow Castle School and one building at the Delhi Divisional Commissioner’s Office, have been constructed. 

  • The Ludlow Castle School Retrofit used a prescriptive system of micro-concrete “seismic belts” developed in India and specified in the Indian building code; the project also included comprehensive awareness, evacuation plans, and preparedness drills. This school has become a model for earthquake safety both locally and nationally. 

  • The retrofit of two concrete office buildings at the Delhi Divisional Commissioner’s Office complex used reinforced concrete shear walls. 

  • The Police Headquarters retrofit combined new shear walls and modifications of existing walls. 

  • The Secretariat retrofit consisted of “wrapping” columns to improve their ability to deform during an earthquake. 

  • At Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital, the retrofit consisted of anchoring interior brick partition walls and equipment. 

A set of earthquake safety training manuals was produced for use by teachers and students. These show inexpensive ways to reduce earthquake and falling hazards in school buildings or at home. They are used widely in school preparedness efforts. 

Through the project’s Global Development Alliance component, GHI developed partnerships with the private sector. These partners supported and innovative hazard preparedness projects at additional hospitals and schools in the Delhi region. 

Funding from USAID is made possible by the generous support of the American People. Funded also by the Government of the National Capital Territory of New Delhi and the Delhi Public Works Department.


GHI Instructor Guide for Student Sensitization
GHI Instructor Guide for Teacher Sensitization
GHI Instructor Guide for Volunteer Training Course
GHI Student Guide for Volunteer Training Course
Report on Divisional Commissioner’s Office Complex
Report on Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital
Report on Delhi Police Headquarters (Multi-Story Office Building)
Report on Delhi Secretariat (Dilli Sachivalaya)
Report on The Earthquake Risk Reduction Process at Ludlow Castle School
Non-Structural mitigation inventory report – Government School, Ludlow Castle
Report On Selected Schools For Nine Schools Project

See more detail about the Ludlow Castle School Retrofit

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