Equipment has been installed on heritage buildings near Metro Rail sites

In the aftermath of the confusion over whether the cracks on the LIC building were due to ongoing Metro Rail work, the Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) has decided to take no risks. They have installed instruments on all the buildings near its sites to check any possible damage to them due to the construction work. CMRL is also expecting the help of experts from the Central Building Research Institute, Roorkee, in constructing stations near heritage sites.

While some of the equipment has been installed to measure cracks, some will check whether tall buildings are tilting. There are others which will examine whether the infrastructure is sinking. “They are known as crack meters, tilt meters and building settlement markers,” said V. Somasundaram, chief general manager (constructions), CMRL.

There is the possibility that buildings in the vicinity will sink a bit as metro rail work is carried out. “The permissible limit is 1 inch. Using the building settlement markers we will check if the building is sinking by more than the permissible limit. If it has, we will regulate our work methods so that the infrastructure is not affected,” said another CMRL official.

Using the crack meter, the officials will check whether any fissures are being formed due to the work. “We will also record the existing cracks on the building to check if they are increasing. We are using computerised technology to check the condition of buildings. The equipment has been installed in over 600 buildings. The tilt meter will be used for tall buildings as the structure can lean towards one side,” said the official.

The CMRL also seems to be doubly careful when it comes to work near heritage buildings. Hence, it recently sought help from the Central Building Research Institute, Roorkee. “Our contractors wrote to the institute and a core team visited and saw the sites. They have gone back to seek permission from the director of the institute to assist the work here. We expect a reply in a fortnight,” said Mr. Somasundaram.

There are quite a few heritage structures along the stretches where CMRL work is going on. These include Ripon Buildings, Victoria Public Hall, and Chennai Central. Some of them are over a century old, and hence the CMRL wants to engage experts before carrying out major work in the proximity of these structures.

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