Experts are meeting in the city to discuss the importance of investigations and reviews that have to take place after ‘on site’ accidents, as they are key to preventing construction tragedies in future.

Bangalore was witness to a series of buildings collapses in the last one month leading to death and injury. In what can be termed well-timed and the need-of-the-hour, the Association of Consulting Civil Engineers - India (ACCE) has come up with a two-day ‘Conference and exhibition on Forensic Civil Engineering’ concluding in the city today that has national and international construction experts under one roof for discussing the importance of investigations and reviews that have to take place after site-accidents, as they are key sources to learning exercises, some kind of a forewarning to possible construction tragedies too.

M.U. Aswath of the Bulletin Committee of ACCE explains that Forensic engineering is the investigation of materials, products or structures that fail or do not function as intended at the construction site causing damage to property and life, the subject applied most commonly in civil law cases. Generally, the purpose of forensic engineering investigation is to establish reasons for failure with a view to improving the performance or assisting a court in determining the facts of an accident. Early examples of such forensic engineering have been the investigation of bridge failures such as the Tay rail bridge disaster in Scotland in 1879 and the Dee bridge rail accident of 1847 across the river Dee in England. Although it is a well-established discipline overseas, it is almost unknown in India amongst engineers and civil engineers.

Mr. Aswath says, “Any disaster at a construction site or a completed building in most developed countries abroad have a committee to analyse the specifics of the lapse, and along with forensic engineering experts, their study, reports and analysis are shared with the general public. In India, while the investigations may take place, it is hardly made public for people to know, or professionals to learn from these unfortunate incidents. It is here that we as civil engineers and architects representing a body such as the ACCE wanted to discuss the importance of bringing in the concept of looking into the ‘medical fitness of these brick and mortar expressions’ that have failed, and evaluate them for learning. The aim was to include think-heads in architecture, structural and legal domains to address issues, while a detailed report of their thoughts and suggestions would be sent to the Government, Corporation and legal officials for putting some stringent monitoring mechanisms in place.”

In addition, the construction engineering fraternity is hugely benefited by this forensic discussion as experts from Singapore like Chew Keat Chuan and N. Krishnamurthy would be sharing their experiences as Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority stipulates some tough, inflexible by-laws that are made mandatory while the punishments for flouting rules are severe. The Indian participants include scientist P. Srinivasan from the Structural Engineers Research Centre, structural consultants VVS Rao, Mahesh Tandon and R. Jagadish, legal expert L.V. Sreerangaraju, Justice Vaidyanatha, K.S. Jayasimha, and insurance professional Soujanya Kumar.

The second day deliberations of the Conference on Forensic Civil Engineering will conclude today, August 24, at the NIMHANS Convention Centre, while their exhibition has displays of mechanisms and tools used for investigations.

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