WOE UNTO THE WORLD BECAUSE OF OFFENCES, BUT WOE UNTO THE MAN THROUGH WHOM THE OFFENCE COMETH – Jesus.
The point which, as I understand of the verse today is that, there is no way we can eliminate ALL the problems of Life. But each individual through humility, skill and effort should do that which is required to be done to the best of his belief, ability and knowledge. The episode which I want to bring to focus is the crumbling of one of the Multi Storied Building(MSB) named FAITH and BELIEF, which crumbled trapping unnumbered humans in the city of Chennai in a locality called Moulivalkam.
The number of floors of each of the towers is 11 floors. One tower has fully collapsed- thankfully, the apartments had NOT been occupied. When scientific knowledge had not evolved to the extent, it was told: WISE is the man who built his house on the ROCK. A strong footing is essential to place a building so that the internal disturbances or the external vicissitudes do not impact a building to the extent of making it crumble. That is why we have SOIL TESTING and STRUCTURAL ENGINEERS.
One doesn’t know the condition of the soil or the layers which lie beneath the surface and unless the soil is understood and suitable structure is raised one is sitting on a time-bomb – only thing is that when the TIME is or when that TIME would be triggered is NOT KNOWN.
The Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA), does not look into the soil report or the structural design of an MSB plan before approving it. Now that we are all wiser by hindsight, it is time that CMDA has its own soil testing and structural design engineers who would approve MSB projects for which interested parties submit their plan.
The problem is that most of the MSBs are joint ventures, which means there are four interested parties: the land owner, the builder, the banker, and the buyer of an apartment. Except for the banker, none of them CAN wait. The builder wants to sell his share of the apartments and exit to the next project; the land-owner wants his share for possession and disposal of some apartments which fall to his share so that he could create liquidity; the buyer wants to occupy quickly or put it on rent: but the only person who is in no hurry is the BANKER who wants as much delay so that his interest component goes up or the builder defaults and the banker acquires a right in his share of the apartments for auction!
In this background, doing multiple soil testing, getting a proven structural engineer (who does not go by the builder’s request for keeping the cost low!) are the barest minimum. But in Chennai, because of the stable real estate prices, every tom, dick and harry who has land or liquidity has become a BUILDER without having either the diligence nor the knowledge to handle MSB projects.
While sympathizing with those persons who have lost their near and dear ones and still hoping that they would be found ALIVE, it is time that the Tamil Nadu government legislated on the requirement of soil testing and thereafter doing the structural designing of the foundation, failing which the government would be encouraging the carpet baggers to become fly by night builders having NO social responsibility. The biggest problem that one faces with the FOUNDATION is that there is seldom any room for REVISITING the issues, primarily because, the problems do not show up before tragedy strikes.