Building occupant safety not highlighted in real estate bill
Builder lobby wins this round, Supreme Court directive on quake awareness ignored, says structural safety expert
The Rajya Sabha select committee, which tabled the commented Real Estate Bill in the Parliament recently, has largely given the go-by to occupant safety in buildings, a matter of concern in a country with seismically volatile zones.
The present sectional committee report has “greatly diluted” the specific recommendations of the previous sectional committee on the realty bill chaired by Sharad Yadav and submitted to the Rajya Sabha in February 2014, says Sandeep Shah, country head and MD – India, Miyamoto International, an earthquake and structural engineering firm.
He alleged that the present sectional committee has succumbed to the pressures of the real estate lobby which the Sharad Yadav committee hadn’t.
The previous committee had, on Shah’s recommendations, defined an “execution comple- tion certificate” to be issued by the developer/project manager which had now been ignored totally.
The present committee had also “grossly failed to take into account the Hon’ble Supreme Court verdict on earthquake safety of buildings even after the extensive damage in the Nepal earthquake,” Shah said. The Supreme Court had reciommended that the public be made aware of the earthquake safety of buildings. Shah had recommended to the present committee that all public buildings and structures of over five storeys have engraved metal plates mentioning their safety category as “Earthquake Resistant – Collapse Prevention” or any other category or “Earthquake Resistant – Unknown”. Collapse prevention level of earthquake resistance is defined as that the building, its contents and utilities being shaken severely and suffering major damage. The building does not have any additional reserve capacity and is in the state of imminent collapse. The building cannot be used after the earthquake. Fully Operational level of earthquake resistance is defined as that the building, its contents and utilities being shaken by an earthquake, but not getting damaged; the function of the building is not disrupted due to the occurrence of the earthquake. Shah had also asked that the definition of a building “include any structure or erection which is intended to be used for residential or other related purposes. A building shall comprise of structural members and non-structural members. Structural members are those members that will affect the structural stability of a building and shall be designed by a structural engineer.”
Underlining the need to clearly specify a structural engineer’s qualifications, Shah had recommended that he or she should possess a minimum of bachelor’s degree or equivalent in the field of structural/seismic design and/or engineering from an institution recognised by the All India Council of Technical Education… and have experience in designing earthquake resistant and structurally sound buildings. The person should be responsible for the structural design of the buildings (and its parts, including foundations) and be responsible for issuing a structural stability certificate for buildings. The certificate would mention that all drawings, walls, floor, beams etc had been completed as per design guidelines of the National Building Code and all relevant Indian standards issued by the bureau of Indian Standards, including the latest revision of Earthquake Codes.
“The Sharad Yadav chaired committee report was more in favour of consumers and warranted mandatory disclosure of many more norms, especially those concerned with occupant safety,” Shah adds.
A high-rise damaged in the Nepal quake. The country largely follows Indian safety norms