Safety first, always
Inspection at every stage of construction will help buildings stand the tests of nature
Even as the rules related to town planning are increasing by the day, scant attention is being paid to structural safety. The rules with regard to town planning deal with variations strictly. Building plans that show even slight variations are turned down. But the government does not seem to stress the safety aspect, contends says S. Suresh, structural engineer. This is a major drawback, he adds.
While laying the onus of safety on the person building a house of his own may be all right, construction of schools, hospitals, commercial complexes, flats and other public buildings is a different matter.
The safety and security of people have to be kept in mind, Mr. Suresh says. Those using public buildings should be assured of the safety of the structures even in a locality considered an earthquake zone. “It is usually not a disaster (unlike the tsunami) that claims more lives but the structural vulnerability of buildings that collapse under even small adversities that cause more harm to people.”
Property developers and builders of flats or contractors building public buildings such as schools and hospitals should be made to take up quality construction.
This can be ensured only if there is design and quality certification of the superstructure. Arbitrary change in design or structure made by builders may expose the building to danger, together with the occupants.
Modern construction practices elsewhere in the world need to be adopted here, Mr. Suresh says. The Union Government has been promoting these practices since 2004 and a few States have adopted them.
The guidelines involve ensuring structural safety at every point of construction right from the planning stage to the completion of the structure. A certificate by a structural engineer should be ensured for every building, especially high-rises that are becoming the norm in cities.
The Association of Structural Engineers will consider going to the court to get structural safety norms incorporated in the revised building rules if they fail to specify them.
A design planned by a builder needs to be approved by the structural engineers the same way the plan and the electrical wiring of the building get inspected.
The inspection should go on till the completion of the project. The local bodies should issue safety and completion certificates only to those buildings okayed by the inspection.
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