Every once in a while, we are reminded just how life threatening the consequences of these violations can be.

How negligence led to Bengaluru building collapse that killed a toddler 4 others
news Civic issues Thursday, July 11, 2019 - 11:48

Rampant construction, encroachments and building violations are not new to cities like Bengaluru. Mostly, it is easy for residents as well as authorities to turn a blind eye to these excesses. However, every once in a while, we are reminded just how life threatening the consequences of these violations can be – and yet, they keep on happening.

One such incident happened in the wee hours of Wednesday when two buildings collapsed in Bengaluru’s Thomas Town, near Hutchins Road, leaving at least five dead, including a four-year-old girl. The people who lost their lives were two labourers, and a security guard and his family who were living in the basement of one of the collapsed buildings.

The reason for the loss of these innocent lives? Building violations, including a weak foundation.

The signs were there too. The under-construction building that collapsed first, leading to the collapse of a second adjacent residential building, was already tilting towards the latter.

When the first building collapsed around 2.30 am, the 11 labourers sleeping in the basement of the construction were caught unawares as the pillars gave away. A room in the stilt parking area collapsed, killing Shambu and Khagen Sarkar, both of whom were Bihar natives. The collapse caused the structure to lean on the second building, which also crashed down, killing the security guard, Narayan, his wife Nirmala and their four-year-old daughter, as they were in the house in the parking lot.

The residents of the building heard loud cracks and ran down, and even jumped down from the windows and balconies on the first floor. Apart from the Narayan and his family, the 40 residents did not report any more casualties.  

The reason behind the collapse of the under-construction building, according to Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike officials, appears to be its weak foundation, that was only about three feet deep. BBMP’s Maruthi Sevanagar sub-division assistant executive engineer Ravikumar told Deccan Herald that the foundation had been improperly constructed on loose soil in the backyard that was next to a graveyard.

Further, the builder had taken liberties with the building plan, not following what was approved, and ultimately making an unsafe structure. “The plan was sanctioned for constructing ground plus three floors. The builder had constructed ground plus four floors and penthouses atop, which is one of the reasons for the mishap,” Ravikumar said.

The Pulakeshinagar police have registered cases against the owners of the plot of the first building, Mohammed Shoiab and Mohammed Imtiyaz, as well as Pratap Rudrani, the owner of the second building’s plot. The builder, civil engineer and the concerned BBMP officials have also been named in the complaint under section 304 of the IPC (culpable homicide not amounting to murder).

Apart from these two buildings, the residents of a third building, adjacent to the second residential one, were also found to be at risk. This building too was made by the same builder, a fire department official said. As a result, residents of the third building were also made to vacate the structure with their belongings.  

The state government has promised Rs 5 lakh compensation to the families of the deceased, that will be recovered from the builders. While some people had bought the flats in the buildings – costing about of Rs 1.5 crore each – with loans, some were living there on rent. 

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