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Jul 19, 2007 at 09:22pm IST

What causes buildings to collapse?

Mumbai: A building, Laxmi Chhaya now lies in a heap of rubble taking many lives down with it, but till Wednesday it was like most other buildings in Mumbai, with minor renovations- a constant part of the building’s life.

Even simple common renovations that can be done to a building including extending the balcony, adding heavy iron grills and changing pipes in the kitchen can add load to the buildings. But most of all a special permission is required from the BMC for renovation.

Says Chairman, Mah Societies Welfare Assn, Ramesh Prabhu, “Ninety-nine per cent of people do their renovations without the permission from the planning authority, as it's too cumbersome to do so."

The Indian Institute of Architects has in the past asked that only qualified, professional architects be allowed to carry out renovations in buildings.

"In Mumbai, a lot of institutes offer three-month courses to people who don't have any background in architecture,” says architect, Anant Gadgil.

So what causes the buildings to collapse?

  • Leakages weaken the structure causing dangerous vertical cracks.
  • Modifying walls, beams and columns could be lethal so a periodic structural audit is a must.
  • Any kind of extra unauthorised loads such as stonework grills, water tanks or hoardings on the terrace could place a severe strain on the building.

So the advice is that - it is better safe then to be sorry.