Rush job on projects may lead to mishaps

Hur­ried at­tempts at fin­ish­ing projects be­fore elec­tions or events can lead to se­ri­ous lapses in con­struc­tion and de­sign qual­ity

HT Estates - - FRONT PAGE - Van­dana Ram­nani

The por t i on of t he Kolkata fly­over that caved in last week killing 24 peo­ple was de­scribed as an “act of god” by an of­fi­cial of the con­struc­tion com­pany, H yd e r ab a d - b a s e d I V RC L . Ex­perts later claimed that it was a de­sign flaw and the pres­sure to com­plete the struc­ture be­fore polls that led to the dis­as­ter.

There have been sev­eral “tech­ni­cal f ail­ures” in our coun­try, most of them to do with meet­ing time­lines be­fore elec­tions or ma­jor events such as the Com­mon­wealth Games held in 2010. Struc­tural en­gi­neers point out t hat t hey are of­ten un­der pres­sure to com­plete a project at the last minute to meet dead­lines and that there are se­ri­ous lapses in qual­ity con­trol both with re­gard to the ma­te­ri­als used, t he st r uc­ture and l ack of con­tin­u­ous mon­i­tor­ing and check­ing.

“There i s a big ques­tion mark on the qual­ity of con­crete used,” says Ab­hay Gupta, Skele­ton Es­com Con­sul­tants Pvt Ltd. Ev­ery project should have a qual­ity in­spec­tor, who is in­de­pen­dent of the project man­ager, to re­port on qual­ity is­sues as peo­ples’ lives are in­volved, he says. For in­fra­struc­ture projects such as bridges and el­e­vated roads, it is very im­por­tant to fol­low a con­struc­tion se­quence and to test soil con­di­tions to en­sure there is no liq­ue­fac­tion.

Though some govern­ments are t ry­ing t o sim­plify t he ap­proval pro­ce­dure re­quired for com­plet­ing struc­tures, what is lack­ing in our sys­tem is the fact that en­gi­neers who clear the de­sign and the struc­tural as­pects of a build­ing are not li­censed en­gi­neers, say ex­perts.

Manoj Mit­tal, struc­tural con­sul­tant and vice pres­i­dent, In­dian As­so­ci­a­tion of Struc­tural En­gi­neers, says, “Qual­ity checks are nec­es­sary for all struc­tures. In In­dia, the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion sys­tem is lack­ing and this is be­cause engi­neer­ing as a pro­fes­sion is not reg­u­lated by an Act of Par­lia­ment. There is no sys­tem by way of which one can ver­ify whether a per­son is a com­pe­tent pro­fes­sional or not. Of­ten there are no qual­ity checks on part of the au­thor­i­ties in­volved in ex­e­cut­ing the project. Any pri­vate en­gi­neer can is­sue a cer­tifi­cate and the au­thor­ity can­not be held ac­count­able for any dis­as­ters or mishaps.”

As f ar as con­struc­tion is con­cerned, there is need for an

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