The Chief Town Planner who probed the February 1 collapse of a section of a multi-storeyed tourist home at Thampanoor here has found the owner, architect, contractor and Corporation officials responsible for the incident which claimed six lives.

In his report submitted to Minister for Local Self-Government Paloli Mohammed Kutty, Chief Town Planner Eapen Varghese recommended several steps to be taken to avoid such incidents in future. The Minister issued directive to amend the Kerala Building Rules incorporating the safety measures and recommendations made by the Chief Town Planner.

Rules violated

The inquiry found that the contractor had carried out the renovation work without the supervision of a technical expert and that the owner of the building secured the permission for the work through illegal means. The owner of the building had sought the permission of the city Corporation by submitting a plan to dismantle the walls of 10 rooms on the first two floors, to set up a dining hall, a service room, a kitchen and to dismantle the staircase near the reception.

The probe report said it was not permitted to convert a lodge into a hotel. But, the Corporation officials had recommended it and asked the owner to remit the fees for getting the permission. However, the permit was not given. Instead, a notice was given to carry out the repair works under the relevant section of the Kerala Building Rules that did not need a permit. The owner of the building also did not approach the Corporation for the permit despite getting the plan approved and remitting the fee.

The walls of 10 rooms were dismantled without taking any precaution. The debris and the building materials were heaped carelessly by the contractor who took up the work. There was no one with technical expertise at the site to supervise the work. The report said the Corporation officials who carried out the inspection in between also did not give any guidance.

“The architect who issued the stability certificate does not have the expertise or knowledge to issue a certificate to this effect for a big building like this,” the report said. Several lapses like this led to the collapse of the building. The report recommended continuation of action against the architect and the officials who had been held responsible for the incident.

Recommendations

The recommendations made by the Chief Town Planner are that local bodies should prepare a list of buildings that are more than 50 years old. Once in every five year, stability report and certificates on the electric wiring and other aspects should be obtained. All the obstructions in the generator and guard room on the premises of theatre, auditorium and other public buildings should be cleared for ensuring rescue and relief operations in case of an accident.

Maintenance work of old buildings should be carried out only under the supervision of a structural engineer. Precautions to be taken during the works should be included as separate clause while issuing permits. Licensing system should be introduced for contractors involved in maintenance and renovation of buildings.

Another major recommendation made is to ensure that school buildings that are 25 years old and had tiled roof should obtain stability report. A separate section has been mooted in the Kerala Building Rules for the renovation of the old buildings. For this, Sections 10,100,101 and 102 should be modified.