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Kerala Kaumudi Online
Tuesday, 16 April 2024 9.12 AM IST

When skyscrapers become a threat

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The memory of the demolition of the high-rise flats in Thevara, which were built in violation of the building regulations, has not faded away. The question of how long another huge flat in the city will last has been raised in the meantime. While the flats in Thevara were subject to construction code violations, serious defects in construction are the reasons threatening the life of the Army Welfare Housing Organisation's Chander Kunj flats in Vyttila. It has been only five years since the two flats of 29 floors each were completed. 264 families have bought flats here by paying huge price. Before long, the building fell into disrepair.

Around a dozen teams, including experts from the armed forces, have already thoroughly inspected the Chander Kunj flat complex. Each inspection team has reported that living in the flats at present is extremely dangerous. The heads of the flat builders, the Army Welfare Housing Organization, are holding talks with the flat owners. Among those who have paid Rs 60 lakh to Rs 75 lakh to own flats are the elites of the army. It is generally accepted that a residential complex like this, which is usually built for the personnel of the armed forces, will be of high standards in terms of quality and amenities. However, the twin flat complex in Chander Kunj has turned out to be an exception to these perceptions. The residents are worried that these flats, which had the reputation of being the tallest flats in Kochi city, will have to be completely abandoned. The owners of the flats are army personnel and retirees. The Thrippunithura municipality has asked the residents to vacate the flats in danger as they have become uninhabitable. The expert team of Chennai I.I.T., which examined the safety of the flats, is also of the same opinion.

There are other flats in Kochi city that had to be abandoned due to construction defects when the works were half-way. However, the need to abandon Chander Kunj flats, which once enchanted the residents of the city, before the completion of five years of occupancy, is saddening not only the residents but also the spectators. The government and builders should seriously consider why this is happening. When applying for the construction of a 29-storey flat complex, the concerned authorities should be able to ensure its safety standards as well. The inspection teams have identified the reasons for the loss of strength of the flats. Findings show that no quality has been maintained in the construction.

Foundations, columns, slabs, beams etc. are not constructed as per rules. It should be understood that the contractors are ready to compromise on everything for the sake of profit. Those who are responsible for checking all this may have turned a blind eye. The crumbling Chander Kunj Towers, built for the flats of army personnel, have raised many questions as a symbol of construction defects and violations. It is also heard that the flats could have been saved if remedial measures had been taken in the early days of the collapse. In any case, Chander Kunj Towers is yet another reminder of the need to tighten the norms to be followed in flat construction.

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