Risking lives for additional revenue?
Earning revenue from unauthorised buildings ‘unethical’
Many housing experts feel that the issue of ear ning revenues from unauthorised buildings is unethical and that the government should give serious thought to the issue of risk of lives in such structures from fires, natural calamities such as earthquakes or from structural faults.
According to experts, the situation is extremely grim in unauthorised and illegal colonies where unchecked construction is taking place by private developers who pay no heed to afety norms.
Chandan Ghosh, professor and head of the geo-hazard risk management division, NDMI, says, “Had the government taken any lessons from the Lalita Park tragedy (in which 73 people died in a building collapse) the mushrooming of thousands of unsafe houses could have been stopped in the last three years. People don’t know that adherence to safety norms will increase the cost of construction by just 10%. Secondly, in the last three years, MCD has empanelled more than 60 structural safety engineers who are competent to certify the safety of the buildings. Even then illegal construction is rampant - especially in the unauthorised and illegal colonies.”
Experts feel that a multipronged strategy is needed to address the issue. First, the government should bring in strict measures to check ille gal construction such as a ban on registration of unsafe properties. Second, violation of building by-laws should invite strict punishment. Third, consultancy of building safety norms should be easy and accessible. Fourth, there should be a body which takes in as members qualified civil engineers on the basis of their skills on the lines of The Council of Architecture, which came into existence after Architect’s Act was passed in Parliament in 1978. It is a corporate body overseeing registration of architects, educational standards, practice standards for practicing architects and recognised qualifications. It also conducts a professional examination in four parts and qualifying students are awarded associate membership, which is a recognised qualification to work as an architect.
“These measures can check ille gal construction. For unsafe buildings, the only way is to either reconstruct them or use retrofitting to add elements in the building to make it sturdy,” advises a senior civil engin eer from IIT, requesting anonymity.