Normally, soil tests are done only for special buildings (ground-plus-three floors) and highrises.

A crucial issue that has emerged in the aftermath of the building collapse is the lack of importance given to soil test reports.

According to norms laid down by directorate of town and country planning (DTCP), it is mandatory for the builder to enclose a ‘soil test report from a reputed firm’ at the time of submitting an application for construction. DTCP also specifically states that along with the application a detailed structural design report, ‘with drawings and stability certificate considering seismic forces from a class I structural engineer’, should also be submitted.

More importantly, the agency is explicit that the local planning authority — the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority in the case of property within the Chennai metropolitan area — should give its ‘specific recommendations and remarks about the site suitability and access road and inspection report’.

A promoter said, usually, the findings of the soil tests were incorporated along with the structural design report and not filed separately as required by law, and the Moulivakkam building collapse was an ‘eye-opener’ in the industry. Everyone had now woken up to realise the importance of the soil test report, he added.

Normally, soil tests are done only for special buildings (ground-plus-three floors) and highrises.

According to C.H. Gopinatha Rao, founder chairman of Institution of Valuers, Tamil Nadu, the only way to ensure compliance with norms is to make sure that soil test reports were enclosed along with other documents at the time of applying for plan permits. The licensed surveyor or the architect engaged by the builder should also act independently and send reports along with photographs of the building under construction at every stage to the planning authority, he added.

“There was a recent instance in Velachery where a soil test was conducted prior to the construction of a two-storey building and, based on its findings, the pillars were designed,” he said.

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