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Negligence, use of poor quality material led to Greater Noida buildings collapse

Officials of the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) said that based on the rubble they found near the Noida building, it seems that structural norms were flouted.

noida Updated: Jul 20, 2018 10:13 IST
Tanmayee Tyagi
Tanmayee Tyagi
Hindustan Times, Noida
poor quality material led to Noida building collapse,Noida building collapse,building collapse
National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team continue their rescue operation as they search the debris on the third day of building collapse at Shahberi village in Greater Noida on Thursday. (Sunil Ghosh / HT Photo )

Flouting of structural engineering norms, including the use of poor quality construction material, seems to be the reason behind the collapse of two buildings at Shahberi village in Greater Noida on Tuesday, say experts and officials.

After more than two days of rescue operations, nine bodies have been recovered so far.

Officials of the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) said that based on the rubble they found at the site, it seems that structural norms were flouted.

“Generally, the ratio of cement with sand while preparing construction material is either one is to four, or at the most, one is to five. However, based on the rubble that we are digging, it seems that the ratio may have been as skewed as one is to 20,” said BR Meena, deputy commandant, NDRF.

Meena further said that the reinforced iron bars — which are used in the construction of columns and beams of buildings — are usually thick. “They are generally 22mm or 25 mm thick. However, the ones that were used here seem to be only 10mm or 12 mm thick,” said Meena, adding that going against such regulations would have definitely weakened the structural strength of the building.

According to experts, iron rods of minimum thickness of 20 mm should have been used for constructing such a tall building. “And this is just an estimate. Also, the grade of concrete used should have been minimum M20, which is based on the structural code that is followed. All this is decided at the time of design. However, if a building collapses due to water seepage, it is a fact that the structure was weak and unstable and the quality was compromised,” said Pradeep Kharbanda, a practising structural consultant based in Noida.

Steps to get approval for building construction
From land acquisition to owing a flat, a look at how a building comes about in Greater Noida
1. The permissions for building construction are governed by the Uttar Pradesh Industrial Development Act 1976 provisions.
2. The Greater Noida authority has notified 40,000 hectares of area, which was earlier agricultural land.
3. Shahberi is part of this 40,000 hectares of notified area.
4. In ‘Notified’ land, only the authority gives permissions for construction of all sorts of buildings — residential, commercial, hospitals, etc.
5. Any building constructed without the authority’s approval is termed ‘illegal’.
6. A housing project is legitimate if the builder has purchased the land for the housing purposes from the Greater Noida authority.
7. After buying land, the builder with the help of a licensed architect, gets a building layout map ready that follows the provisions of building code.
8. The builder submits the map to the authority for approval.
9. The authority’s urban town planning department approves the application if it is in line with the building bylaws.
10. Once approved, the builder is allowed to start construction.
11. After the building is ready, the authority conducts inspection to check if the builder adhered to the approved map or violated it.
12. After scrutiny, town planning dept issues occupancy certificate (OC). After OC, the builder is legally allowed to offer possession to buyers.
Experts say that flouting regulations weakened the structural strength of the buildings. (SUNIL GHOSH/HT PHOTO)
According to the DM
The under-construction building had six floors
The fully constructed one had five floors
The under-construction building fell first on the old one
According to the NDRF officials
The under-construction building had five floors
The fully constructed one had seven floors, in addition to the basement
The constructed building fell on the underconstruction one, blocking the service road

Locals in the area are outraged at the poor quality of material that has been used.

“It seems like people have no value for human life. The builder’s greed and his desire to save a few bucks led to the death of so many people. One look at the rubble makes it clear that there was hardly any cement used. It was a sand building,” said Shriram Tiwari, a local.

He added there had been water accumulation in the basement of the building that had already been completed.

“Water gets accumulated there after rains; no one bothers to remove the excess water. That just weakens the building. We have seen these buildings come up in the area and the builders hardly ever dig deep foundations that can sustain the multi-storey building. It is hardly a couple of feet deep,” said Tiwari.

Though it is anybody’s guess as to how many people are still stuck in the debris, locals allege that there were multiple families occupying the completed building.

“There were at least 10 families residing. Also, the number of labourers who sleep there at night must be close to 15. Only nine bodies have been recovered so far. There are so many more that are still buried there. Who knows maybe someone might even be alive,” wondered Fatima Bibi, another local.

However, the NDRF officials are not very confident about this probability.

“The lack of oxygen plus heat make the chances of anyone being alive very bleak. We know of a security guard who lived in the basement. We are on the lookout.If any more bodies are found, chances are that they will be found at the lower levels,” said Meena.

Meena added that they are using portable rescue radars that detect any movements, including a heartbeat which will show the spot where a person might be trapped.

“We are also using sniffer dogs. However, nothing has been found yet. We have five teams working at night and two during the day. We are confident that we will clear the rubble of the constructed building by Thursday night while that of the other one by Friday morning,” said the deputy commandant.

On Thursday morning, the force recovered another body of 25-year-old Naushad Ahmad, taking the toll of the mishap to nine.

Originally from Faizabad, Naushad had been living in Noida with his brother Shamshad, whose body had been found on Wednesday, for the past two months. They both worked as carpenters.

First Published: Jul 20, 2018 08:48 IST