Aug. 2: The move for technical safety audit of multi-storied buildings in the city by the Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) has run into rough weather with real estate developers now planning to move court against the drive.
Two days after The Telegraph reported the GMDA’s move to make technical safety audit of buildings a reality, Assam Real Estate Developers Association (Areida) said they would challenge the initiative legally as buildings here are structurally strong and there is no mention of safety audit in the city’s building bylaws.
The president of the association, P.K. Sarma, today told The Telegraph that the high-rises here have been tested and appreciated by experts and there have been no major damage of the buildings during the recent earthquakes, including the one measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale, which proved that buildings do not require fresh technical safety audit.
“We do not see any logic in the technical safety audit of the buildings and collecting money from individual building owners and construction firms in the name of safety. Building permission is given either by the GMDA or Guwahati Municipal Corporation according to provisions of building bylaws and structural designs of the buildings are thoroughly checked by engineers of the civic bodies as notified by building bylaws. Only one or two buildings had developed slight cracks during the recent earthquakes in the city and our experience during earthquake is enough proof that structures of our buildings are strong to withstand the tremor. We recently witnessed an earthquake with its epicentre in Hojai, which is not far from the city, but we have seen no damage of our buildings. Hence, we will not accept the GMDA’s move and will challenge it in court,” Sarma said.
The GMDA has engaged Environmental Research and Evaluation Centre, a private firm, to carry out the safety audit of multi-storied buildings, including tests of the structure in different stages using different non-destructive test equipment. It includes compressive strength of the concrete, workability condition, bending and carbonisation to find out durability of the buildings.
According to the GMDA, the move has been initiated keeping in mind the fact that Guwahati is situated in seismically active zone V and following provisions of the National Building code.
Sarma, however, questioned the reason saying the codes are advisory and not legally mandatory.
“We will not recognise the private firm engaged by the GMDA and we feel that reputed institutions like IIT or an engineering college should have been engaged for the exercise. We are also against collection of money (Rs 20-25/sq feet) from the building owners in the name of safety audit. If they want to do the exercise free of cost, they are free to do so,” Sarma said.
The Areida president said the GMDA, instead of doing a technical safety audit, should enforce the building bylaws and check illegal construction on the hills, wetlands and eco-sensitive zones.