Tilted buildings may be a tip of the iceberg
The front page story in this paper yesterday said it all -- a seven-storey building awaiting finishing touches at Kanthalbagan tilting, its domino effect has ensnared a 17-storey and another 10-storey building impelling massive evacuation of inhabitants to safety in the small hours of night. The reason why it tilted is put down to a basement pillar of the unfinished building having collapsed. The developer of the apartment building in question claimed that it was constructed in compliance with the building code. "I followed the rules including soil testing," he would have us believe. But because the construction was raised after filling a big pond, an official supervision from Rajuk at least through the initial stages of construction was an imperative necessity. Was it done? If not, why not? If so, was it compromised? These are natural questions to ask.
The sense of danger intensifies when one takes into account the fact that low lands are being used for the real-estate business involving filling operations, structuring a plinth based on soil type and erecting the high-rises on rather narrow parcels of land. Then the stipulation about sparing a space between buildings is hardly conformed to.
Tilting of buildings has been hogging news lines quite frequently these days. It sends butterflies through our stomach when the frequency of earthquakes and tsunami is terribly on the ascent in the neighbourhood. We should consider all untoward incidents in relation to building construction as yet one more wake-up call to attend to the phenomenon before it is too late.
Whereas calculations are making rounds about 70-80 percent city buildings being vulnerable to crumbling in the face of an earthquake of 7 on the Richter scale and we are thinking of retrofitting earthquake-unsafe buildings to stand tremors of certain magnitude, the state of our buildings should be a major national concern. It must occupy the minds of all concerned with the pressing agenda of stock-taking, identifying all vulnerable buildings and those that could do with retrofitting. On the basis of findings, then let a strategy be adopted and a nodal agency created to raise the safety levels of buildings up to international standards.