5-storey building caves in

A five-storey building under construction at Vinayaka Layout near Electronic City caved in dramatically on Tuesday, apparently due to a weak foundation and poor quality of materials used in the construction. No casualty or injuries were reported.

The building that caved in. DH Photo / Sivakumar

It would have easily been a man-made disaster had the civil defence volunteers not rushed to the spot immediately and evacuated two adjacent buildings as a precaution.

The drama began unfolding  around 6 am. Neighbours told Deccan Herald that they first heard a loud sound. It took a while for them to figure out that the building had caved in without actually collapsing. The structure stood menacingly like a leaning tower, precariously close to a collapse.

With tension mounting, the local police and a team of 10 civil defence volunteers took charge of the situation by 9 am. Power supply was cut off and the volunteers evacuated people from the adjoining buildings. Gas cylinders and other inflammable material were also removed. Shwetha, the owner of an adjacent five-storey building said she was worried that her property would be damaged in the process of demolition. She said that many occupants of her building had gone out to work, and some had taken shelter with their friends or relatives.

The Madivala police, who looked for the building’s owner, Vijaykumar, of Vellore, Tamil Nadu, and a resident of V V Puram, Bangalore, found him untraceable. His mobile phone was switched off. A case was registered against him.

The Public Works Department engineers who visited the spot recommended demolition of the building. They also found that the foundation was shallow and was constructed on loose soil.

Neighbours claimed that the construction was a rush job, with all the five floors raised in barely four months, leaving no time for curing.

M K Ayyappa, Deputy Commissioner, Bangalore, visited the spot by evening. He relegated the demolition work to a private contractor, Shree Chetana Services, the expenses of which would be borne by the owner.

The firm has started the demolition work, using a Fokline breaker.  Krishna Murthy, the contractor, said first he would reduce the weight on the other side of the building at the third floor to stabilise the building before going for a demolition exercise from the top floor. He added that the exercise would take around three days to complete.

The building comes under the Shanthipura grampanchayat. Surprisingly, the five-storeyed structure clearly violates the panchayat rules which permit construction of buildings up to two floors. Police sources said the building had no plan approval by any planning authority.

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