Engineers blame procedural failures

Engineers blame procedural failures

Excavation process for building collapses

BBMP engineers on Thursday discussed the possible causes of the tragedy. (DH Photo/S K Dinesh)

While several experts offer their own theories as to what caused the collapse of the two buildings at Hutchins Road, structural engineers have highlighted the faults during the excavation process.

A registered structural engineer with the BBMP, Radhesh P, said the engineers and contractors concerned failed to follow procedures while excavating for the new building.

“The foundation for the new building was probably started without soil stabilisation,”  Radhesh said. “No precautionary measures like sheet piling were taken before construction. Sheet piling uses steel sheets with interlocking edges to retain the soil, which has an effect on the foundation of an existing building,” he said, delivering a lecture on
‘Structural Stability of Buildings’ at the Institution of Engineers on Thursday.

Radhesh mentioned that the flaw has been worryingly common in all the cases of building collapses in the city.

The discussion over structural stability has gained relevance after two buildings collapsed in Hutchins Road on Wednesday.

Urban planner and civic analyst, Institution of Engineers, A S Kodanda Pani said there should have been sufficient space between the buildings. Ideally the gap should be 50% of the taller building, Pani pointed out.

Building bylaw violations and incompetent civic authorities are among several things the engineers pointed out as reasons for the building collapses.

‘Review designs’

Structural engineers and experts have urged the civic authorities to review the building designs thoroughly and mandate periodic inspections.

Radhesh said the government should hold exams and interviews before approving structural engineers to issue building licences. He also added that civic authorities should check if builders have deviated from the approved plans.

Among several things, Radhesh attributed the building collapses to incompetent consultants and contractors, lack of procedures and liability changes.

He said engineers do poor excavations during building construction. They leave voids below the foundation, fail to put adequate scaffolding, dump construction material and evade warnings.

“They simply ignore warnings like ‘do not walk by’,” he said. Loading the structure more than what it can bear also leads to collapses, he explained.