Solan building collapse: Inapplicable building by-laws, rampant construction led to tragedy
With unregulated construction rampant in rural areas of Solan, the collapse of a four-storeyed building in Kumarhatti on Sunday seemed to be inevitable. The tragedy could have been averted had building bylaws been applicable in the area.
Ten years ago, the building, which collapsed like a house of cards claiming 14 lives, had only two floors to begin with. Overtime another two floors were added with the fourth storey added some eight months ago; and all this without strengthening the building’s foundation.
As construction bylaws are not applicable in the area, the owner did not seek permission before adding floors to the original structure.
Deputy commissioner KC Chaman agreed that construction bylaws of the town and country planning (TCP) department were not applicable as the area fell under a panchayat.
“The reason behind the building’s collapse will be clear once the SDM conducts a probe. The chief minister has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident. A report will be submitted in two weeks,” he said.
Adjoining the collapsed building, another seven-storeyed apartment is under construction. A resident of the area, Aruna Jaiswal, said as many as 47 trees were cut without permission to build the apartments. “Due to rampant deforestation, the soil in the area has become loose. Incessant rainfall has only made things worse. Poor drainage is another issue in the area,” said Aruna a hotelier, whose husband is a visiting professor at IIT Roorkie.
History repeats itself
Four years ago, another building in the same neighbourhood had collapsed. Those within the building escaped in the nick of time after they noticed the widening cracks. This time around, the victims had no warning before the building went down.
Recently, the wall of a private school in the area also collapsed and the house of a resident developed cracks due to excessive use of large machines. However, no efforts were made to monitor the construction.
Most residents say the foundation of the building was too weak to take the load of the fourth storey.
Barog panchayat secretary Talsi Ram said panchayats do not have authority to regulate construction. “The government must establish standard construction norms for villages on the border of urban areas or give panchayats the authority to monitor construction,” he said.
Sudharshan Kumar, a government employee, who lives in the area suggested that the government extend TCP bylaws to all state highways to ensure regularised construction irrespective of whether they fall in urban or rural areas.
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