Friday, 24 October 2008

Recent collapse of a high raise apartment in Bangalore

The question surmounts every ones mind that whether shall we buy a high raise apartment in Bangalore. The recent collapse of the the 14 storey apartment which was under construction from Prestige Shantiniketan.Definitely hammers the people who are about to buy a dream class apartments like Mantri,Greengage,Concorde apartments etc.

Already people who invested in such a high raisePropety  buildings cant imagine this type of disaster. The apartments were selling at a rate 3700Rs/sqft.The apartment cost would be a minimum of 50lacs and plus.

The people who had invested their hard earned money to buy this kind of apartment. Just imagine it is not the question of the money they have invested, any way the insurance companies will compensate for the damage, it is the life and safety of the people who buys the flat. If such stray incidents happen if after people occupies the flat what will happen?

“Excerpts from Hindu dt 24/10/2008”

The block which collapsed is part of the 20 blocks under construction by Prestige in a joint venture with Shantiniketan. The top floor slab which collapsed first was laid only a few days ago.

"The police told The Hindu that the accident occurred around 5 p.m. when a small portion of the top floor collapsed resulting in the slab of the floor below it collapsing in a short while. Owing to sheer weight, the slabs of the lower floors collapsed subsequently, all in a span of 50 minutes, although the embedded steel rods prevented the slabs from falling in a heap. "

"According to an eyewitness, around 4.50 p.m., the slabs of the building started to collapse. Then there were around 120 people, including women and children. “Immediately after the incident, the workers at the construction site had left. Very soon they were sent to isolated places in a few trucks.”

“A Few officers, perhaps from the contractors side, had shifted all the workers to some other location immediately. They instructed the security guard and other workers at the construction site not to answer the media or the police,” he said.

The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike has taken a serious note of the accident. Directions have been issued to stop construction pending an inquiry. “

Thum_prestige

There are some question arises in our mind which is obvious for a common man:

  • Even if they cite as an accident how the entire building collapse due to the fall of a slab?
  • Why the safety measures have not been followed while construction?
  • Is there any impact analysis done for the concrete structures and floors?
  • Is there any governmental mechanism to track the structural stability of such high raise building?
  • Already many high raise apartments occupied by the people Are those people are at risk or whether the government will take some initiative on this to see the stability of such buildings constructed and under construction?
  • What is the criteria when the governmental agencies giving nod for such a high raise building considering the seismic parameters of Bangalore.
  • Will the governmental agency is awake and whether the adequate safety is been taken care in the construction sites?

Now it is not the time to ignore this as another incident recently a flyover bridge collapsed in Delhi. This kind of incidents can not be ignored and openly throws the light the tracking mechanism is improper which applies to every one including the poor buyer.

I think it is the right time for people to throw away their myth or assumption  with just builders of reputation will be of always of good quality .As per murphy’s law If worst think has to happen it has to  happen and to  to any one .Proved to us already by the disaster of Lehman brothers.(158 year old company).

Just imagine the position of the people who have invested their most part of their life’s savings to buy this kind of apartments. Already the global environment and the stock markets are giving shocking news for an average middle class investor. Again this would not rub on the wound , atleast government should be considerate and safeguard the interest of the middle class people..

24 comments:

Prem Shenoy said...

To my knowledge, I would like to elaborate on the questions asked in the Post. These comments are purely mine, may not have any connection with the matter under post. You need to check out for the correctness of my statements on your own.

1.What are the Quality standards and testing process available in market for construction Industry?
There are plenty of them. Indian and International Standards are available and are supposed to be understood and followed on the Materials, Analysis, Design, Sampling, Procedures on Usage, Assembly , Erection, safety ,QA ,QC, Documentation , Etc. ...The List is endless, so to say. These are expected to be followed by the Promotors, Developers, Architects, Structural Engineers, Project Managers, Supervisors, Fabricators, Carpenters, Masons, safety Supervisors
2.If a Builder claims they are ISO 9001 certified, What does it mean?

This just means that he has an INTERNAL system developed by HIM and he is following it strictly. If he states that he is outsourcing the professional services, he need not even check whether the service provider is ISO 9001 Certified. Even if the service provider is Certified, is it for the Design too? Check it out.
3.What type of audits are done by Government Authority before issuing occupancy certificate?
Lets start from the beginning, with the Licensing. The Land Document needs to be perfect, The Zone of construction,( Residential, Commercial, Agricultural, Industrial, etc..) should not be violated. If any conversion is required, it needs to applied for and done. The plans need to be approved for single site or layout. The Widening/ Roads proposal need to be considered. While preparing the Plans, the engineer/Architect ( he needs to have prior Licence / registration) needs to provide enough setbacks( free space all around the building(s) after leaving the space for widening). If it is a Multi-Storied Building, Soil Investigation report, A Structural Design Report from a qualified Structural engineer, containing the detailed analysis and design of the components, are to be enclosed along with the Application for the Licence. For all buildings above 15 m. height, a No Objection Certificate needs to be obtained from the state Fire and Safety Department. This will demand a separate scheme prepared by the builder showing the facilities for the fire tender movement, Installation of Internal safety and fire fighting equipment, location of escape stairs and routes, etc., as given in Part4 of National Building Code of India 2005. ( This latest Code gives special emphasis on the Fire and Safety aspects, detailing even to the thickness of walls and slabs for the fire resistance..). Some more NOCs will be required from Pollution Control Board, Environment and Forest Department to satisfy CRZ rules, Inspectorate of Factories, Police stations, National Highway Department, etc. for certain types of buildings and their locations. If the project is too large, probably the builder need to organize a public hearing too. Based on these ( !), the authority issues a Licence to start construction ( Commencement Certificate) to the applicant. This will be valid for Some period and the builder needs to complete the construction within a stipulated period.(3 years?) If the construction is not complete, the builder can request for extension. BBMP may or may not grant an extension based on the quantity of completed construction. But if the Applicant has not even started the construction and licence expires, a new application may have to be filed with all the details, based on the rules prevailing.
During construction, Government officials can stop the construction if it is not as per the details in the licensed drawings. Normally, They will act only if there is a complaint.
Once the construction is over, the applicant applies for a completion / occupancy certificate which gets him door Nos and Tax evaluation for individual door Nos. At this time too, BBMP officials are supposed(?) to cross check the licensed drgs and completed drgs. Many times extra area is constructed in excess of licensed area. Upto 25% of excess areas were allowed in residential construction in the Mysore Corporation with fine.
The builders wait for New regulations and interim Acts or amendments to regularize the violations in the area and setbacks. One Such amendment on the act was passed by the Cabinet last year Under AKRAMA SAKRAMA Scheme, which has become a mockery ( probably the biggest) and the builders were divided on the pros and cons, small time house owners paid the fine, now they are getting refunds from the Government. The real result is small house owners are exposed for the violations, big timers escaped (!) without disclosers, blaming the government not clear on the modality , extent of fine and recovery. The COMMISSIONERS can with hold the completion certificates if there are changes in construction, and may even order for demolition if the construction is not as per the licence and affecting the public or public amenities.


4.What happens if there is a major flaw in the design or construction? Will investors have to accept because building has been constructed or Builder will go back to their design workshop and rectify the problem? Any case study where it has happened?
This is where our buyers need to wake up. Specifications are supposed to be given in the initial agreement between the Seller and the buyer. The Licence No. and the contents are expected to be a part of the agreement. If the structural Design is not as per the one given in the Licence application, or the specs are not, the buyer can simply go to the consumer court. But if the structural design is as per the one given in the licence and it is proved faulty, probably BBMP also could be pulled to court.
5.What are the insurance policy available for Fire, Earthquake, any natural disasters or an mankind accident?
All the general insurance companies have these policies, even for your equipment theft
6.Which is the nearest Fire Station in Whitefield? Does this Fire Station have the capability to fight fire at 20th Floor?
Just Call 101
7.Does every apartment has Fire alerts? Fire Alarm, Water Sprinkler etc
The New National Building Code Part4 elaborates on these.
8.What measures should I take for Fire? May be install Fire Extinguisher. Just having Fire Extinguisher may not be sufficient, I also need to learn how to use it.
Every builder should Give a detailed demonstration of the safety facilities incorporated in the Building, from the usage of Lifts to Pumping of water to the Tank , operation of Valves, to the Operation of generators to the Inverters, change overs, MCBs. The Buyers need to keep the Documentation Library with user manuals and operating instructions, warranty Cards, at a common accessible place. The Important Telephone Nos of BESCOM, Lift Suppliers, Police Stations, Fire Stations, Ambulance, etc. ( other than just 100,101 and 102) need to be displayed.
My Comments to the post, are all probably from a most pessimistic approach to the most pessimist of the society. Cutting the corners for minor profits make the difference.
Anyways, do not hesitate to buy a flat. Let the collapse of one portion of one tower of one project of one otherwise reputed builder not cast a shadow in our minds. Our Builders , Architects, Engineers and Contractors and of course, the authorities are not all that bad to be suspected for the genuine delivery of what we ask for.
Prem Shenoy.

Mike said...

Thanks Prem for throwing some light on this.

With regards to the point no: 4.The structural design and the quality of construction offered to a buyer. I feel that there is an intermediate mechanism required to validate the correctness of the licence no of the design given by the builder. I have been watching complaints coming from the Top most builders from the city in terms of quality.

While purchasing the flat the poor buyers always have a blind built in confidence about the brand and the number of projects they have completed. They have a visibility of aesthetics since they see the model flat. But the poor buyer over looks to see such design documents and not even aware of the validating mechanism of the correctness of the one they have offered after completion. Poor buyers overlook to see the real quality of construction and the standards used.

Most of the buyers don’t do much verification of the documents whatever mentioned. They go in terms of reputation of the builder and see whether all the banks/financial institutions have approved for the project and then conclude it is a compliant to all statutatory norms. More importantly buyers are highly vulnerable to sign what ever documents they asked to sign by the builder.

More importantly after the Gujarat earth quake. Bangalore has been geographically identified as a place of high risk for having an earth quake. So the builders would have considered those seismic parameters also in the structural and construction design particularly apartments of more than 5 floors. Whether any validation done by any one? Or the builder does a check/test by him self and issue any certificates to the occupants?

The apartment concept has picked up in Bangalore very much in mid and late nineties. So the maximum life for an apartment in Bangalore should be around 13-15 years. We can not name any one as proven builder in Bangalore for over 25 years like that.

It is high time for every apartment owner to verify the quality of construction of the building they bought including the occupied one also. If any changes need be , It should be imperative to do so . Atleast this will shield us from the natural risks if any.

Anonymous said...

Guys,

There are some few point’s bubbles in my mind.

1. The design parameters would have been considered based on some load bearing capacity and the factor of safety assumed might have been wrong with the structural design. If that is the case the sole responsibility lies in the hands of those design/structural engineers. People who have bought those apartments definitely need to rethink about occupying the other towers in future
2. The greedy builders might have insisted for some cost cutting measure by saying value engineering This would have resulted in the purchase of low cheap priced materials and the quality of people employed at the project site might not trained with the importance of the work.
3. Definitely an interrogation required and should come out with the investigative report even for all the existing blocks under construction.
4. This kind event shouldn’t set precedence to loot the hard earned money for the people.

Sankara Krishnan

Mike said...

Some voices about prestige Shanti Niketan before and after collapse.



From one of the comments in

http://buybangalore.blogspot.com/2005/02/reviews-about-leading-property.html#c2211950515377790273

(Before collapse)
Prestige Shantiniketan,

Beware, the land is disputed. when the Project was launched for 2800 flats, the builder had 'sold out' board from third day itself. This was because lots of agents have bough it in bulk and Prestige encourages this so that the price goes up. Now when it was found that it is a disputed land. All agents tried to sell their flats at the same rate, but they could not as buyers aware now.

Public memory is short, over the period, people forgot that it is a disputed land. These days , one will see lots of advertisement on Prestige Shantiniketan, but when you inquire about it, the agents will say they are getting lots of call, as it is very hot property. Therefore, intially they will not respond, and tries to create artficial demand. Once you belive their story, they will start responding.
PLEASE BEWARE.




Bijoy said:
Finally, the city police have stated that four people were injured and one labourer named Munna Katua is still missing, at the

Prestige Shantiniketan site in Whitefield. Six people from the Prestige Group and IJM Group were arrested in connection with the collapse.

On October 23, the `C' tower of the building under construction collapsed from the 15th floor down, with consequent damage to the lower floors, around 4.50 pm.

The police have also ruled out any possibility of murder in the case of the building security guard, Shivanna (41), who was found dead near the railway tracks next day. Shivanna, a native of Kitthalli village in Madhugiri taluk and a security guard with Alert security group, was employed at the Prestige construction building.

Speaking to the media, city police commissioner Shankar Bidari said that according to the post-mortem report, the death was due to coma as a result of injury suffered by a hit from a moving train. Bidari said, "We have also verified the duty register where Shivanna had signed around 8 pm, after completing his duties. We have eye-witnesses who had seen Shivanna manning the people after the building collapse, so there is no doubt over the reason of his death. The city Railway Police who have registered the unnatural death, are continuing with the investigation.''

Bidari said that clearing of the debris will take another two days, since it requires some experts in avoiding any further chance of collapse. He said that a detailed verification of the workers has been taken up, and they have already questioned around 218 people. It has been found that Munna Katua (23), a native of Kendrapada district in Orissa, who was working with the other four injured, has not been traced yet.

Stating that they had made some arrests, Bidari claimed that records pertaining to construction, like building license and NoCs are being examined and a sample of the debris has been collected and sent to Karnataka Engineers' Research Centre in KR Sagar.

He also said that no outside agency can interfere in the investigation process and instruct police officers to act in a particular manner, according to a Supreme Court ruling.

# October 27, 2008 3:50 PM
Ashraf said:
I own a few prestige properties and have invested in shantiniketan commercial and residential. I also know a number of people who are their customers and no matter what many people say it still fetches the best rental, the best resale, best locations in bangalore and the best front elevations.

Knowing Prestige they will react once they have all the facts together including whats ahead. They have already reacted in damage control but it will get stronger. And if that means owning up to a lapse on their end I think they should definitely do it. This was the first time that a project of this size and scale which is probably the largest in India was contracted to a international company for quality and delivery. Its unfortunate that such a incident occurred in spite of that. Not many people know this but the tower that collapsed was standalone and belonged only to Prestige directors and was not sold to anyone else. It was to be the most premium tower. Also if you think about it they launched this project in 2005. Since then the cost of construction (steel, cement and other inputs) has tripled but yet there is no talk of additional outflow. These guys are not only very good but very classy and still the best bet in Bangalore.

# October 27, 2008 6:59 PM
pramod said:
do anyone think that the price of Shantiniketan will come down after some month?



A. S. Says:

October 25th, 2008 at 1:33 pm
Hi Prakash:

Thanks for the info. Such collapses are the crucibles for learning for the engineering community. Unfortunately the developers and the whole construciton community will now try to hush up the issue and we will be none the wiser as to why and how the structure failed. In other coutnries such failures are the precursors to changes in the codes etc. Here we bury our failures along with the dead so that they can’t tell tales.

Siddarth Says:

October 25th, 2008 at 2:39 pm
I am really disappointed that a builder like Prestige Contructions is no longer reliable. Today for them the focus is only on making money. God is kind that the building did not collapse after people moved in. I would definitely not recommend any body to Prestige after this incident.

Mani Says:

October 29th, 2008 at 1:21 pm
Just noticed while on the way to ITPL, that the corner portion of the building that collapsed doesnt seem to have the beam on which the roof and the wall can rest. For all the other portions, the beams are visible. I am not sure whether this is any civil Engineering funda???



# October 28, 2008 11:10 AM
Taher said:
Prestige constructions have shaped the skyline of Bangalore city.They are partly responsible for getting Bangalore on the global map. Besides making exceptional buildings they are exceptional people themselves. I feel that the collapse of the tower at Shantiniketan was very unfortunate. I am sure after all that they have done for Bangalore we can let this one pass by and not create a big hype and dont forget the media always taints the true picture. I am sure they will give everyone an answer to what happened and why it happened once they have their facts together. They will always be the classiest builders in Bangalore.

# October 28, 2008 2:27 PM
Madan said:
Is this the downfall of Prestige?

I know a friend who owns a villa in Prestige Ozone and he is very frustrated about the quality of construction, the apathy in maintenance and the profit mindedness of prestige group. The quality is so bad that if u drill a hole in the wall, all you get is a heap of sand and massive amounts of flaking plaster. The maintenance of the villas and the ownership of the clubhouse right in the middle of the propoerty have been cleverly retained by Prestige themselves yielding the opportunity to perennially fleece the occupants and everything is priced to the height of profiteering..

And in case of Shantiniketan, they've already written letters to everybody explaining the 1.5 years delay in handover and attributing them to shortage of labour and escalation of prices of rawmaterials. All I can say is that they are liquidating the reputation they've built over the years now to fill in the coffers and they are no different from any other builder. So why pay a premium?

# October 28, 2008 3:16 PM
nanda said:
Prestige is another hyped upbuilder in Bangalore. Last year I had a chance tovisit Prestige Ozone...it was no where near the expectations. Some of theses crores+ homes had leaking roofs...I believe Prestige had outsourced the plumbing work and also a part of construction. Regarding the apartments...it is clearly the greed of builders who are/were encashing on herd mentality. I am really surprised that people are/were ready to shell out 75L+ and chose to live in these urbun slums! My input for any investor/people in need of house is..buy either an independent home/ low rise like maximum 3 floors apartments.

# October 28, 2008 3:32 PM
Srinivasan Iyer said:
Will the architects, structural consultants and quality team give their opinions on failure, design parameters considered, quality points and finally what were the safety precautions taken.

By the grace of god there was no loss of life. Even, the developers should highlight what actions they had taken to avoid this happening?

# October 31, 2008 3:28 PM
Shrinivas said:
The most important point here is to discuss why the failure had occured rather than mud-slinging.By seeing the photographs it appears that the collapse might be mainly due to concrete not gaining enough strength and de-shuttering done before the strength was achieved. Technically the slab can take the loads if it has achieved @ 80% strength and subsequently deshuttering can be done.

Morever one more point to be noted is even though the upper slab collapsed the lower slab should not had. The reason for this being the slabs are desingned for much higher load i.e Self weight, live load, dead load and an additional impact load. The failure reflects that the concrete quality was of questionable quality.

# November 1, 2008 4:31 PM
Mahesh said:
I can really digest the opinions of people who are still favouring Prestige.The customers should give a fitting reply to the builder for their laxity.People should think many times before they go for Prestige.This should also be a warning bell for other builders.Now a days builders are doing the cost cutting with the wrong means of jeopardising the basis quality and safety ! This should never be allowed.

# November 7, 2008 7:07 PM

Bangalore is becoming like apartment city. So many apartments and many apartments have overtaken the Utility Building in terms of number of floors. How safe are they ? How well are they constructed ? Is it worth the price a customer is paying and the huge maintenance cost, more than rent of a good house. I literally feel that many techies and business men are going on the brand name and colourful ads and the out of the world picture given by the builders. The recent collapse of 15 floor Prestige apartments at Hoodi rises lots of questions. What if families would have occupied the apartments? A branded company like Prestige doing this. Apartment was constructed using low quality materials, mainly filter sand which doesn't mix well with cement. Reporters are avoided to meet the accident victims and the guard of the apartment complex was murdered. Not even a single person was killed when a 15 floor apartment collapses!!! So much running behind the scenes. How about apartments of local builders. 5-6 floor apartments are now being built on 30X40 sites!!. It is the BBMP which has given licenses to these kind of apartments without inspection and after the 'deal' between the builder and BBMP officer. I saw a program in TV9 channel where the reporter went as a BBMP officer with a hidden camera to a Brigade office telling the violations of one of their buildings and the Brigade officer tried to negotiate with BBMP officer(reporter). Ultimately it is the buyer who is the looser of life and property.

Vasanth - Apartment was constructed using low quality materials, mainly filter sand which doesn't mix well with cement. . Any source for this info? I hear (rumors of course), that the Prestige Shantiniketan collapse may have been an act of sabotage as well. More than following the investigation (trust newspapers to be on the case), just as you say, we should be interested in following if this leads to better inspection and regulations from BBMP. Apartments on small lots is increasingly noticable - they don't seem to follow byelaws that well, esp the parking (no visitor parking spots, sometimes not enough for residents - use the public road) and setbacks (cover full site fotprint, leading to hassles later with neighboring sites or with BBMP due to road encroachment

In many of the Kannada channels during interviews, local people were saying Shanthinikethan Apartment and other apartments nearby are using filter sand. Not sure how real is this information. Lots of questions about the collapse still persists and no clarification given by BBMP. Prestige made a diplomatic statment as expected.

Anonymous said...

What is the maximum life of a flat?

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