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PostPosted: Wed Nov 10, 2004 2:33 pm    Post subject: AnotherView Reply with quote

Namaste All,

If I was a relative of a worker killed in the TOI Ahmedabad collapse I would want the
following persons to be held "jointly and severally" ( a legal term implying persons
are liable as a group AND individually too )  responsible for the mishap.

* The Structural Engineer
* The Civil Engineer
* The Contractor

Thereafter if the investigation fails to discern who amongst these is specifically
responsible then they are responsible as a group and face punishment. If a specific
fault of any one is clearly established then the others can be absolved of wrong doing.

Only then accountability can be ensured. It  will force the three to adopt methods that
are demonstrably safe, as against methods that are at best arguably safe. Lack of
adequate accountability is a key factor that people are willing to take chances.

Once an event occurs and accountability is ill defined then the person lowest in the
economic / power hierarchy is likely to take the blame.

One way that SEFI can serve the society is to monitor the investigation into the
collapse and keep the members informed of facts and postures that emerge as the
collapse is investigated.


Dhirendra Tripathi

skjain@iitk.ac.in wrote:

Dear Kirtesh:

I am not surprised that strucutral engineer is being punished without
confirming whose fault it is. Why?

We as a community have lost credibility. We are willing to give unsafe
design under pressure. Therefore the community has lost respect for us
and we become the targets when something goes wrong.

Structural design practices of Ahmedabad that came to light after 130
collapses left no one in doubt that structural engineers are willing to
give unsafe design when under pressure.

Hence, the entire profession gets a bad name.

It is not important whose fault it was this time: what is important is
to recognize that the "construction industry" as a whole (in which
strucurtral engineer in only one component) is going through a major
crisis due to its lack of professionalism. Today, with a formal
involvement of structural engineers, construction engineers, and a
reputed contractor, one cannot be sure that they all together will do a
good and a safe job. What can be worst than that for the professionals
engaged in this profession?


Sudhir K Jain

kirtesh.gandhi@babtieindia.com wrote:

I fully agree with prof. Chandrasekaran that whenever the damage occurs
structural engineers are punished straightway without looking at the facts
of failure.
There was news in today's newspaper that the authorities have cancelled
license of structural engineer involved in TOI building design.
Perhaps the structural engineer is punished without checking his design or
without proving his fault.!!!!!
Major cause of failure during construction is a "bad construction practice"
where a structural engineer is not directly responsible at all.
It is very pity that we are throwing all responsibilities to a structural
engineer who perhaps does not even go to the site in many cases.
It is always contractor's responsibility to look after health and safety on
his site.
Few people were comparing structural engineers with doctors but it is a very
rare occasion when a doctor is punished for his operation failures....
Of course, I am not favoring the unethical design practice, which many
engineers do in our country, but at the same time structural engineers
should be protected from punishment at least before their fault is proven.


Kirtesh Gandhi
Jacobs - Babtie India,

-----Original Message-----
Message From  for_prof_arc@hotmail.com [mailto:for_prof_arc@hotmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, 10 November, 2004 5:19 PM
To: kirtesh.gandhi@babtieindia.com
Subject: Building Damage - Another View

Whenever structural damages occur, unfortunately we like to think only
Structural Engineers are at fault.
The problem is with the decadent and cynical society in India which gives no
priority to any safety aspects of our life.

Before taking about buildings, let us look at a few other cases like traffic
& health.
Helmets for two-wheelers and seat belts for four wheelers is not enforced at
all ][exception - Delhi for two wheelers].
One cannot even cycle in USA without wearing a helmet. During my stay in
USA, I have always wondered about the safe way the traffic moves in a four
way crossing in suburban roads where there is no traffic light or cops.
Whatever be the time of the day (or night), the vechicle must come to a
complete stop and only the vehicle which first reaches the junction has the
right of way. Such un-supervised safety rules are followed as a rule in
those countries.

How about public transport like buses & trains in India? No public transport
in those countries can move with doors open.
Does any pedestrian feel safe in Urban India ?  Less said about safety in
health matters of general public which is a sham.

Reverting back to Building Industry, there is an all pervading corruption.
In the chain of Builder-Financier/ Approving Agencies/ Architect / Designers
/ Contractors - those Executing in the field, why should designers should
alone be the Fall Guy. Any way most of the Stilt +4 residential buildings
are not designed as we seem to fondly hope. A building is considered safe if
after removing the shuttering, it stands without falling down.

We must think of remedies which can be implemented and enforced for minimum
safety. Specify minimum sizes of columns and beams, which hopefully can be
verified after construction. Also, Specify minimum reinforcements in columns
and beams and make everyone concerned give affadavits that it has been
provided. [someone must already be responding that false affadavits can be
managed in Bharat].

We must debate about how to implement safety in all aspects of building
construction - totally eliminate the concept of weight of steel per unit
volume of concrete. How to implement quality in the field should be our

Fortunately, the buildings have a lot of factor of safety and unless natural
calamities like earthquake and fire exposes them, the damages would be
forgotten very soon.

As a realist, I predict a lot of damages to so called engineered buildings
in North East India or any other place where an event above M-6.5 takes
place. It will be a pity if only the designers are punished in such cases.


A R Chandrasekaran

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