Why some buildings risk collapse in Bengaluru


By Hamza Irfan Qazi

Engineers blame it on lack of professionalism, low-quality material



More buildings in Bengaluru risk imminent collapse, structural engineers in the city have warned. Though excess rainfall did play a role in recent incidents of collapsing buildings, engineers are pointing to lack of professionalism and due process in building construction, alongside the use of low-quality material, as reasons to why so many buildings are structurally weak in the city.

“Most buildings in Bengaluru are not built professionally. Many builders do not consult structural engineers and other experts,” said Manjunath VK, professor at Ramaiah Institute of Technology.

“Builders use low-quality materials to save money and pocket the difference. Finishing and selling the building rather than ensuring it is structurally sound are more important to some builders,” professor Manjunath added.



According to engineers, excess rainfall over the last few weeks is likely what had triggered the collapse of the buildings which were already structurally weak.

“Generally, a construction should last for at least 50 years. It is designed to last through earthquakes and rainfall. This is not happening in some cases as low-quality materials have been used in construction. In such buildings, the force of the water falling repeatedly creates cracks and holes which weakens it, risking collapse,” MN Sreehari, a consultant and former professor of engineering, told BM.

“When constructing a building, care should be taken to make it water-resistant, while ensuring proper drainage and flow of water. Water should not be allowed to stagnate in the structure,” Sreehari explained.

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According to the engineers, due process of soil testing is not being done before building construction in many cases. “Before the construction, sufficient soil testing needs to be done and load-bearing capacity needs to be tested. A lot of builders do not diligently do this,” Manjunath VK clarified.

Another key concern is builders not laying a foundation deep enough to support the building. An unsound foundation increases the risk of the building collapsing entirely, experts pointed out.

Warning of more building collapses in the near future, experts also advised citizens on how to identify the signs that a building is nearing collapse.

“The first sign is usually the leaking of water from the ceiling along with cracks in the ceiling, beams and pillars. The plaster falling off is a strong indicator that the building has become structurally weak,” Manjunath explained.

Engineers in the city stressed on quality testing and maintenance of buildings to prevent collapses in the future.

“Quality testing must be done on all older buildings across the city to identify constructions that risk collapse. In the future, the authorities need to ensure the building code of practice is properly followed,” MN Sreehari said.



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