Structural Stability of a Building in India: Checks and Balances

Structurally, how safe the building is that you are living in or your neighbors are living in or you are shopping in or you are being medically treated in or your children are studying in? Whose responsibility is this to ensure building structural stability? Do we have a system in place? Are there any guidelines specified to project owners to ensure structural stability?

What I have seen in India that majority of small projects doesn't even have a structural consultant appointed. Whole construction is done on the basis of architectural drawings and masons & owners inputs. I see there is a lack of awareness about the importance and existence of a structural consultant for small projects. Owners are not even aware that appointment of a structural consultant for their project will not only ensure the structural stability of the building but also save some money in construction by ensuring right utilization of concrete and steel, which they put unnecessarily high in amount at wrong places. No matter how small the project is, structural consultant shall be appointed at the start of the project to avoid sad accidents like neighbour's building collapse during excavation of the plot, slab collapse just after the removal of form work, sudden collapse of the building because of earthquake etc. which cause sometime heavy loss of human lives.

What I have realized so far about the local approval authorities in India that their only interest is to ensure whether the architectural layout of the building is as per prescribed guidelines or not but they are least bothered about the structural soundness of the structure, irrespective of the project size. The reason for the same could be lack of awareness about seriousness of the issue, lack of resources and knowledge, and lack of available guidelines. They way India is progressing and construction is happening all around, it's highly important for the authorities to improve their checklist and approval procedures.

In my opinion, irrespective of the weak system and authorities in place, project owners bear the moral and legal responsibility and they shall take necessary measures for building safety. Also, end users should demand for structural safety certificate from project owners for their own safety, as development in India cannot wait for reforms to take place.

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