The revised Kerala Municipal Building Rules 2013 (KMBR) has failed to incorporate construction safety or structural safety norms as directed by the National Disaster Management Act (NDMA).
Former deputy chief engineer of the Public Works Department Yakub Mohan George told The Hindu that the NDMA had given directions to the State to revise the KMBR. It was also made clear in the State disaster management policy that construction activities would be regulated.
The NDMA had asked the State to frame a techno-legal regime giving enhanced powers to local bodies to ensure buildings were constructed according to the National Building Code. It also prepared a model bylaw and asked all States to revise their building codes accordingly.
The expert committee, which was formed to revise the KMBR, had prepared a draft, which included the safety norms. However, they were not incorporated in the final revised version of the KMBR.
Disasters like the one in Aroor on Monday, where the spans of a hall in an under construction St. Augustine’s Church fell killing two persons and injuring several people, were the result of the lack of enforcement of safety norms during construction.
Mr. George said for a hall with a 35-feet high ceiling, three-layered scaffoldings should have been secured tightly.
The scaffolding should have been designed professionally to prevent it from buckling. Rules to ensure safety of construction workers was also specified in the norms. However, the revised KMBR had failed to incorporate the norms, he said.
The National Disaster Management Act also specifies the need for a qualified structural and construction engineer with required years of experience to certify the construction of assembly halls, mall, hospitals, IT parks, etc, with a capacity to accommodate more than 1,000 people.
“The Act calls for inspection by a construction engineer at every stage,” said Mr. George.
The aim was to ensure that earthquake resistant buildings followed the design code. At various stages of construction, the quality of materials also should be tested, he said.