Build­ing design: who is ac­count­able?

Fix­ing li­a­bil­ity dif­fi­cult in In­dia if ar­chi­tects are from other coun­tries

HT Estates - - NEWS -

Ac­cord­ing to renowned In­dian ar­chi­tects, ser­vices of­fered by for­eign ar­chi­tects to In­dian real es­tate com­pa­nies lead to se­ri­ous is­sues of li­a­bil­ity or re­spon­si­bil­ity to­wards the In­dian en­tity. The rea­son for re­strict­ing for­eign ar­chi­tec­tural firms by mak­ing a le­gal pro­vi­sion in the Ar­chi­tects Act of 1972 is be­cause it would be very dif­fi­cult to fix li­a­bil­i­ties in case of any fault in build­ings that could en­dan­ger lives. Be­sides this, struc­tural and other safety is­sues also need to be looked into.

Ac­cord­ing to Anil Sharma, a Delhi-based ar­chi­tect, “An ar­chi­tect’s job is not limited to draw­ing the design of the project on pa­per and get­ting it ap­proved by the au­thor­ity. He is fully in­volved from the time he makes the ini­tial design to its ex­e­cu­tion, com­ple­tion and hand­ing over of apart­ments to home­buy­ers. Not only that, even 10 years later, in case of any fault in the build­ing, it is the li­a­bil­ity of the ar­chi­tect. He is also duty bound to check con­trac­tors or struc­tural en­gi­neers in his project from de­vi­at­ing from the orig­i­nal plans.”

“Un­for­tu­nately, t hese for­eign ar­chi­tects are only sell­ing their de­signs to real es­tate de­vel­op­ers who have em­ployed ju­nior ar­chi­tects to over­see day-to-day work. So some in­ter­na­tional ar­chi­tects are nei­ther en­dors­ing their own de­signs be­fore the de­vel­op­ment au­thor­i­ties nor are they in­volved in day-to-day in­spec­tions,” Sharma adds.

Ac­cord­ing to build­ing by­laws in the coun­try, the ar­chi­tect for any project has to sign off the draw­ings sub­mit­ted to the sanc­tion­ing au­thor­ity. Su­per­vi­sion cer­tifi­cate dur­ing con­struc­tion and draw­ings af­ter the com­ple­ti­tion of the project have to be sub­mit­ted with the sanc­tion­ing au­thor­ity.

Many In­dian ar­chi­tects also al­lege that de­signs by for­eign ar­chi­tects do not work in In­dian con­di­tions. “Their aim is to make the build­ings look like ‘for­eign build­ings’, and not to en­cour­age any lo­cal in­no­va­tion,” says Pradeep Mishra, ar­chi­tect and town plan­ner.

Ex­perts sug­gest that there needs to be more out­reach by the Coun­cil of Ar­chi­tec­ture (CoA) and the Min­istry of Com­merce and In­dus­try. “The CoA needs to process cases of mis­con­duct against the In­dian ar­chi­tects who aid and abet in this prac­tice. Also, cus­tomers must be ed­u­cated about the fact that they are be­ing short­changed only by the de­vel­op­ers’ ad­ver­tise­ments,” sug­gests Sud­hir Vohra, a well­known ar­chi­tect.

“If any other per­son is pro­jected or ad­ver­tised as the ar­chi­tect of the project then this is a fraud and the builder or de­vel­oper should be booked by the au­thor­i­ties un­der sec­tion 420 of CrPC. The au­thor­i­ties should im­me­di­ately can­cel the sanc­tion plan and ad­vise the builder/ de­vel­oper to sub­mit fresh draw­ings duly signed by the reg­is­tered ar­chi­tect,” says Ashok Goel, ar­chi­tect.

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