After Ghatkopar building collapse, interior decorators to come under BMC scanner

Until now, a BMC permission is not sought unless there are structural changes being made in a premises.  

mumbai Updated: Aug 22, 2017 10:04 IST
Tanushree Venkatraman
Tanushree Venkatraman
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Ghatkopar,Ghatkopar building collapse
A ground plus four storey building Siddhi Sai collapsed at Ghatkopar on July 25 killing 17 people.(File)

An inquiry into the Ghatkopar building collapse that killed 17 people last month has now prompted the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) into fixing the responsibility of interior decorators associated with projects.

Senior civic officials privy to the inquiry said that the BMC is now mulling over its supervision of interior changes within a structure. Until now, a BMC permission is not sought unless there are structural changes being made in a premises.

A senior civic official said unlike an architect or a structural engineer, interior designers are not certified which makes it crucial to look into their role during any sort or repairs or renovation in a building.

"We are working on a policy to look into the kind of work that interior decorators undertake and the extent of supervision and permissions it would require. In case of architects, their licences can be cancelled but we need to determine clauses when an interior decorator is at fault."

The official also said there is a difference between an architect and an interior designer in understanding structural issues.

A ground plus four storey building Siddhi Sai collapsed at Ghatkopar on July 25 killing 17 people. Residents have alleged that Shiv Sena leader Sunil Shitap tampered with the main pillars of the structure in order to undertake repairs in his ground floor nursing home.

Shitap is currently in judicial custody. Investigations also revealed that Shitap had allegedly appointed a person called Ranjit Agale — an interior designer — to oversee the renovations and not any architect.

Vilas Nagalkar, senior architect and member of the practising engineers, architects and town planners, said that it is a welcome move if BMC takes it up seriously. "There is vast difference between the understanding of an architect and a interior designer. Even in that, an interior designer understand structures better than an interior decorator who are not trained as much."

Meanwhile, this is probably the first time that the BMC has made use of computer simulation as part of the investigation to depict what exactly happened which led to the building collapse. The simulation has been based on tests undertaken on debris, columns, plans, a study of the building plan, eye-witness accounts etc.

Municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta had ordered a three-member committee to submit an investigation report within 15 days. Officials said that the report is in the final stages and is likely to be submitted to Mehta on Tuesday. The report will also be forwarded to the Maharashtra state government, officials said.

First Published: Aug 22, 2017 10:04 IST