The NEWS FIRST:
Mumbai: Building collapse kills 29
Miloni Bhatt

Thursday, July 19, 2007 (Mumbai)

Rescue operations are nearing an end to rescue the few remaining people trapped under the rubble of a building that collapsed last evening in Mumbai.

At least 29 people have been killed and unfortunately that number is expected to go up, while at least two-three people are still believed to be trapped under the rubble of the Lakshmi Chaya Apartments.

Eight people were pulled out of the rubble on Thursday. Only one of the eight, a 65-year-old woman was alive.

Eleven people are in hospital. Four of them are said to be in a serious condition.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh has ordered three separate inquiries into the incident and ordered a compensation of Rs 1 lakh for the relatives of those killed and Rs 50,000 for those injured.

Unauthorized construction

Meanwhile, angry residents have alleged that the building was weakened because of illegal constructions on the ground floor. The floor had included a restaurant, a few jewelry stores and a medical clinic.

There were about four to five flats on each floor of the building, which is over 25-years-old.

According to reports, jewellery shopowner Sanjiv Hastimal Jain in the course of renovating his shop had removed a pillar from the building.

This may have weakened the structure and hastened the collapse, and consequently, Sanjiv, whose parents also died in the collapse, may end up facing arrest.

''Like Delhi, Mumbai also should bring in laws, which would stop allowing commercial establishments from being set up on the ground floor of residential complexes.

''These shopkeepers alter their spaces according to their requirements by redesigning the whole set up of the buildings, which might lead to the demolition of these buildings. So there should be definite laws which will ban commercial establishments in residential areas,'' said Sanjay Nirupam, Congress MP.

In all, 12 families were living in the flats of the collapsed section of the building. For now, the families of the victims are grappling with the tragedy, for instance, the mother of 40-year-old Jatin Shah, who lost her only son.

Jatin was at home while his father and wife left for an evening walk, and then the building came crumbling down, informed Bhupesh Shah, a relative.
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My response for an article to be publised in the Times






In Mumbai, where space is at a Super Premium, no just every foot, but every inch matters

In the name of maximum space utilisation, residents often resort to illegal alterations and changes in their apartments after taking possesion from the builder
The so called interior designers are given contract to make place for addtional room/s, shift kitchen and make new bathrooms
Unqualified interior designers/decorators can play havoc with not just the apartment but also risk entire buildings with their half baked knowledge about structural and non structural modifications
And more often than not, the residents are to blame. In the quest to save every penny, they employ cheap, but unqualified interior designers

What can be done to prevent such a catastrophe :
What can Residents do :
1. In case of major renovations, always entrust the task to Qualified Structural consultant to understand the structure of the apartment and plan new renovations only after the consultant certifies that it is safe to carry out the renovations.
2. Entrust the renovation/s and interior works to qualified architect/s who have a excellent track record of such projects and are willing to give refernce. For saving few thousands, dont empoy part time interior designer/decorators who do not posses the necessary knowledge and skills for such jobs.
3. Dont agree to removal of beams and pillars in the apartment to create more space. Structural changes should not be done at any cost.
4. Ensure strict supervision at every stage of the work to check that progress is as per agreed plans and terms
5. Ensure comliance of all local building laws and regulations.
6. Desist from enlarging windows and enclosing balconies.
7. The emphasis should always be on cosmetic beautification rather than structural modifications

What can Society do :
1. Insist on written permission from members for any minor/major renovations that they propose to carry out in flats/shops/offices
2. Take indemnity from members that structural changes will not be done and in case of non compliance, member is responsible for the consequences including penalty and repairs etc of any damage etc caused by the renovations
3. Supervise any major renovations being done
4. Carry out structural audit every 5 years

What can the Govt do :
1. Make laws that not only enforce the regulations in a very strict manner, but make the law enforcement agencies accountable and provide for strict penalties in case of dereliction of duty is noticed
2. Ensure that OC and BCC is given only when all compliances in terms of constructions is done and there is no changes in RCC and other structures as per the submitted plans while taking the commencement certificate by the developer

Precious lives are lost every year due to the lax attitude on part of the residents and also the enforecment agencies. Its high time such tragedies serve as a eye opener and remind us of the grim consequences of playing around with the structural part of the buildings. Public memory is short lived and it just takes few days for us to forget te tragedy, before another one strikes. So its in our hands to avert such tragedies and be aware citizens of the city.

Any inputs from fellow members ?

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  • Does everyone just wants to cut n paste info ? NO Discussions at all ?????

    Are we so insensitive to grave tragedies like a building crash due to structural problems that none of the members think it worthwhile to discuss this ?

    I am not looking for responses coz i started this thread. But with responses from learned members here would surely throw light on the depth of this issue and hopefully come up with some pragmatic solutions to avert future disasters.

    Would really wish members interact and put their thoughts here instead of just cutting and pasting news articles from newspapers and websites. It is good to disseminate information, but would be much more worthwhile to put their own words here sometimes

    Any opinions ?

    Ram
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  • On Boriwali Massacre...

    Hello members !!!

    At times when India's infrastructure and real estate sector is earning global recognition, it's unfortunate to come across such tragedies.

    Leave apart the financial numbers, we can't bear human loss this way.

    The reactions and suggestions given by Mr Ram are insightful and practical.

    What I personally find here is that it is the nexus between district administration, including municipal corporation, and builders which lays the foundation of such tragedies.

    Nearly all government departments concerned with land records are prone to manipulation and escalations. Builders take permissions for 'ABC' and come up with 'XYZ'. So, who's going to check that and who's concerned at all ?

    Most of the deadly alterations are done with basements and parking lots.

    These spaces are either put to some commercial use, as what happened in Boriwali massacre, or converted into apartments on ground floor.

    If someone had removed pillar or beam there at Boriwali building , it was purely a commercial matter, otherwise I don't think that anyone would take such drastic decision for the sake of interior decoration of one's home !!!

    Again the root cause of the issue is the illegal allotment of space. It's crime!!!

    Laws are there in place to rule out the possibilities of such mishaps, but then the populace also need to be aware and conscious.

    The residents can always register their protest collectively or individually at Consumer Courts or Human Rights Commission, without waiting for someone else's reaction. After all, it is the matter of their lives.

    I've seen that these are the authorities, on which common man can trust all the way. They take quick actions and the support of media is always there.

    What you all say on this...?
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  • Hi!

    I completely agree with what Vikram is saying. A lay man always looks up to the authorities and if they will cash in on our credibility, then who else to believe?

    Illegal allotment of space and faulty repair work are primarily responsible for the destruction of Lakshmi Chaya Apartments in Mumbai. Our concerned authorities are more worried about hastily carrying out the construction with little regard for safety regulations.

    Nowadays, money has been given more importance than the precious lives. Can the financial help extended by the government compensate for human loss?

    Now, its high time the builders and authorities should take lesson from such tragedies and stop playing around with the structural part of the building for the sake of mere profits.

    They must understand
    : LIVES ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN DOLLARS
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  • Bill for Builders

    Frnds .. hv a look... wht the govt has to say now........

    Prompted by the Laxmi Chhaya building collapse in Borivli, which killed 28 people on July 18, the state Urban Development Department has drafted a bill that will make it mandatory for developers to get a licence from the local civic body before undertaking construction.

    Builders will be held legally accountable for poor construction or contravening building norms. Licenses will be handed out for a period of five years and will be revoked if norms are violated. Once the licence is canceled, the builder will be barred from any further construction in the state. Builders will lose their licenses if construction quality is poor, excess floor space index has been utilised or flats are handed over to buyers without occupation certificates.

    The bill will require Cabinet approval before it is placed in the Legislature. The bill is presently with the Law and Judiciary Department for scrutiny. The Urban Development Department has also drafted a bill that will make structural audits of all buildings over 15 years old mandatory.

    The government is setting up a panel of experts that will examine whether such buildings are habitable. Builders are likely to oppose the government's move, but even they agree that there must be a regulatory authority and licensing for developers should be on the basis of certain educational and financial norms. But the civic body is not equipped to exercise such powers. The bill is likely to be tabled in the Winter Session of the state Legislature.


    We wonder how long we will remain subjects for experimentation......!!!
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  • Uhuh, and just how valid is this bill? It might be possible to get the bill via some under the table moolah... which would really not be surprising.
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