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Chennai high-rise building crash;blame game starts

Chennai, July 4 (): High rise buildings under construction are now under the scanner by CMDA after the collapse of Prime Sristi’s 11-storied building near Porur in the city.

CMDA which usually says that it does not have manpower has deployed 14 teams to inspect all high rise buildings under construction and those recently constructed.

Sources say that the builder, a novice was initially given permission to build five storeys of two buildings in the land he had bought. Somewhere along the line, the builder increased the floors to 11 each. The government authorities in this case issued certain orders that helped the builder. The builder who is based in Madurai had no previous experience of doing a high-rise project of this magnitude.

The architect firm that designed the building does not have a license but the plan was signed by a registered architect who works for the firm. The structural engineer who signed the report based on which the CMDA gave the sanction left the project halfway through as the builder began to make deviations. Another engineer was roped in instead for record’s sake.

The glaring fact is that in the vicinity there is no high-rise building and the fact that the area was under water during the last rains. To drain out water, the civic authorities  had to demolish encroachments that blocked the flow of water to the Porur lake.

Sources cite that some government orders helped the builder to go ahead with the construction. The Government has denied that it had issued such circulars and filed defamation cases against the newspaper that reported it. The death toll has risen to 60; the builder as well as the engineer have been arrested.

The architect has filed for an anticipatory bail saying that she was willing to cooperate but her arrest was not necessary as it was not her job to monitor the construction. CMDA says that the architect has to report any change in the plan submitted, if done at a later stage.

On the sidelines, there is a scramble of the relatives to get the compensation money. Claimants are coming up and authorities are finding it difficult in case of migrant workers. In one case, a dead woman’s claimants are two men claiming to her husband.

In another case, an unidentified body was claimed by a family in AP for compensation while the real person’s body was found later. Buyers are in a soup as they have to pay the EMI to the bank. The builder did not insure the project as it he would have to abide by labour laws and CMDA rules.

The second tower that remains intact too is unsafe and fire fighting unit took a risk while doing the evacuation as there was a possibility that it might crumble and fall on them. The blame game is on as builders say the mortar mix company added excess fly ash in the cement mix while the other says soil test reports were not asked for by CMDA.

The Government has appointed a retired judge to probe the crash.