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Building Collapses and Repairs

Maintenance of Buildings

Every year a large number of buildings in Bombay collapse, resulting in deaths and economic damage. Sometimes the damage is inflicted by the weather. The salty sea breeze and the heavy monsoon play havoc with houses in the city, giving most sea-facing walls a puffed and peeling look. Often this leads to water seepage into the walls. If this remains unchecked, water can rust and corrode steel reinforcements inside the concrete columns and seriously damage the building.

However, in many cases, the cause of the collapse can be traced back to a human agency. In most of the older buildings, the weight of the structure is carried by certain load-bearing walls. The house falls apart if these are damaged, or removed. In more modern constructions, the load is carried by pillars. Although the walls may be removed without affecting safety, these load-bearing pillars must be guarded from damage. Many house collapses are due to load-bearing members being demolished by interior decorators or repairmen carrying out changes without consulting an architect.

Municipal Rules for Repairs

The BMC must be informed of any reconstruction or repairs (including vertical or horizontal extensions) being carried out anywhere within its jurisdiction. Any person who wishes to carry out some repairs or renovation must have an approved architect submit plans to the Department of Buildings in his ward. All such plans must be approved by the Departments of Hydraulic-engineering, Sewerage, Storm Water, Gardens, Traffic, and, if the building is on the heritage list, also by the Heritage Society. Only then can work be started under the supervision of the architect and subject to inspection by the BMC.

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