Structural audit made mandatory for Greater Mumbai buildings

Written by Prachi Karnik Pradhan | Mumbai | Updated: Aug 13 2007, 05:50am hrs
Residents, builders and the construction lobby in Greater Mumbai would henceforth have to follow tough structural audit norms. Conducting a structural audit would not only be mandatory for the existing structures but binding on upcoming buildings from mid-August.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation would soon issue notices to all existing housing societies and buildings that are over 15 years old to carry out structural audit.

The move comes in the wake of the Maharashtra government's decision to promulgate an ordinance to make structural audit of buildings mandatory following the recent house collapse at Borivli that claimed 28 lives.

A BMC official said once notices were issued, buildings and housing societies would have to conduct a structural audit. However, "we expect societies and building residents to voluntarily approach us for conducting an audit," he added.

This apart, the official said owners of all buildings would be required to obtain structural stability certificates. Laws would be amended for this purpose. Development control rules would be changed to make pile foundation mandatory and to ensure that soil testing conforms to ISI norms.

Ashok Shintre, BMC chief engineer, building proposals and development plan, said during a recent joint survey by BMC and the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Powai, 234 buildings were identified as dilapidated and dangerous. Of these, 89 were within the island city and remaining 145 in suburban Mumbai.

Shaken by recent incidents of building collapse in Greater Mumbai, industry sources feel mandatory auditing of buildings would ensure that the life of buildings is enhanced. They say such audits should be made mandatory annually or at least once in two years.

Nitin Doshi, a structural engineer, says in most cases of building collapse, the residents are to blame. He says stringent guidelines by the building proposal department are necessary. In addition, there has to be a mechanism wherein any structural repair or alteration should be approved by structural engineers appointed by the civic body. Harshan Gokani, another structural engineer says, "People do not mind spending lakhs on marble flooring and changing the interiors in their homes, but become stingy while spending Rs 500-Rs 1,000 for an audit."

Jairaj Phatak, civic commissioner, said it was practically impossible for the civic machinery to check the health of over four lakh buildings across Greater Mumbai.