Risk­ing lives for ad­di­tional rev­enue?

Earn­ing rev­enue from unau­tho­rised build­ings ‘un­eth­i­cal’

HT Estates - - HTESTATES - Jee­van Prakash Sharma

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.

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