With many instances of bridge and building collapses over the last few months, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has made it mandatory to conduct structural audits of all buildings older than 30 years. Referring to section 355(B) of the Municipal Corporation Act, 1888, the financial capital's municipality administration has stated that it is obligatory for owners and residents of buildings in existence for more than 30 years to get them inspected by qualified structural engineers.
The thirty years threshold will be calculated from the date of issue of completion certificate by BMC or the date of issue of permission to occupy the building. In case structural engineers recommend corrective repairs for securing structural stability, this has to be done immediately according to the BMC directive.
“The move is not new. However, the corporation is just trying to implement it strictly. This is for the better good of the citizens and can prevent losses of life and property. From the time of publication of the notice, residents are expected to submit the report within 30 days,” a senior official from BMC said, adding that the move was initiated after the Siddhi Sai Apartment crash in Ghatkopar in August 2017.
Construction industry experts claim that this is a move in the right direction and must be extended to other cities as well. “This is the right move. Mumbai and, even Delhi, have so many old buildings. Structural audits will help in keeping buildings healthy. It is like a routine check-up,” said Parth, an architect and civil engineer at Parth Contractors.
Explaining the process, he added that a structural audit generally involves three stages: examination, evaluation and prescription. The examination involves a detailed visual observation and light hammer tapping of all structural elements. The engineer is also expected to map visual observations such as cracking in members, concrete quality, dampness and leakages, and observation of any exposed or corroded reinforcement on the developed drawings.
After the examination, all the findings are analysed so that it gives a complete picture of the current health of the structure, including causes of any deterioration observed. It also includes the expected service life of the structure, any case of excessive loading of buildings and change in use of building, if any. The purpose of a structural audit is also to understand possible solutions for the damage that may have been observed in the building. The report will also have to provide a brief recommendation on a possible retrofit and repair scheme if found necessary.