All options will be explored to ensure safety of occupants: Suba Thangavelan

Three civil engineering experts have begun a study into the reasons for sinking of one of the multi-storeyed apartments under construction at Ammankulam in the city, according to Suba Thangavelan, Minister for Slum Clearance Board and Accommodation Control.

Mr. Thangavelan said that all options would be explored such as demolition or strengthening of the foundation or having just ground plus one floor to ensure safety of occupants.

The Minister was talking to newsmen on Sunday at the Ammankulam site where the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board (TNSCB) is constructing 936 of the 1,608 dwelling units at a cost of Rs. 49 crore.

As part of the Jawarhalal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), a total of 9,600 dwelling units are being constructed. Of which, works in respect of 3,840 are given to the TNSCB and the rest to the Corporation.

Mr. Thangavelan was accompanied by Mayor R. Venkatachalam, Deputy Mayor N. Karthik and top officials from the TNSCB. The TNSCB consultant and retired Dean of the Anna University-Chennai, A.R. Santhakumar, P.D. Arumairaj of Government College of Technology and Palanikumar of PSG College of Technology had commenced a study. To a query on the suitability of the site for construction, the Minister said that the construction was undertaken after soil testing and removing the earth for 3.75 meters. When newsmen pointed out the AIADMK's charge that the site had been rejected by its government, the Minister said all due procedures had been adopted and in fact the structure was designed as an earth-quake resistant one.

“Government owns up for whatever happens and the structure is not a faulty one and cause of sinking would soon be brought to light by experts”, he said.

Mr. Thangavelan opined that change in water course and resultant percolation in the aquifer from nearby canal could have turned the soil loose leading to the present situation.

He said that the government wanted to demolish structures that were more than 28 years and provide new houses but the residents were adamant and continued to stay in structures that were precarious.

Professor Santhakumar told presspersons that fault should have occurred in the foundation under the footing and reasons could be conclusively arrived at only after soil testing by taking samples from the site using bore holes. He said that procedures such as injecting lime and cement to strengthen the foundation and structures could also be explored.

Police pickets

Police pickets have been posted and the two leaning structures cordoned off from public access.