India is gearing up towards start up culture. Local problems when challenged by vibrant talent are throwing up new ideas and opportunities. Some of the ideas have been both inspirational and revolutionary in India. Ironically, most of these start-ups are in field of shopping, tour & travels, home delivery services, technology based etc. They are disrupting the traditional way of doings and leading to change in eco-system. But now we need to ask ourselves that the disruption is limited to these fields. My close observation and experience in construction space has led me to identify the bigger problems & possibly provide related solutions in different sphere of the boundary. I am going to highlight the problems that are implicitly, most of us are associated with them. Hence this sparked me to think through to write this article.
Problem-1: Structural Health of the building we live in
In India, from 1980 onward the infrastructure industry witnessed stepping up of public investment and growth in infrastructure industry results in construction of new multistory concrete apartments which are now in the age of thirty plus years. There are many buildings during this period and earlier have reduced strength in due course of time because of structural deficiency, material deterioration, unexpected over loading or physical damage. If, the buildings are under sever seismic zone and further use of such deteriorated structure is continued it may endanger the lives of occupants and surrounding habitation. Several incidents of collapse of building are happening in India.
The National Crime Records Bureau Data indicates that a total of 13178 people lost their lives due to collapse of various structures from 2010 to 2014 in 13473 such cases. This is an average of 7 such cases per day. Most people lost their lives because of the collapse of residential & Commercial buildings.
Problem-2: Fire Safety of the building
In India, fire hazard is very common accident and we can hear news very often. Fire hazards are very frequent in residential, commercial buildings that also include hospitals, hotel, offices, apartments. The data on fire accidents is maintained by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reported that between 2001 and 2014, a total of 3.16 lakhs fire accident cases were reported in the country. India witnessed an average 59 deaths per day due to Fire Accidents between 2001 and 2014.
This is not only loss to human life but also a huge amount economical damage to the nation.Hence, there is a demand of appropriate actions and measures for all such buildings to improve its performance and restore the desired functions of structures & fire safety which may lead to increase their functional life. The periodical safety & structural auditing and diagnosis for health of existing buildings is thus utmost important for finding the present serviceability and structural viability of structures. Same time, it is also important to train the people and sensitise them for precautionary measures.
Now the question arises that how the occupants know the health of building that they are living in?
As per clause No.77 of revised Bye-Laws of Cooperative Housing Societies: “The Society shall cause the ‘Structural Audit’ of the building as follows:
For building aging between 15 to 30 years once in 5 years
For building aging above 30 years Once in 3 years
Structural Audit is an overall health and performance checkup of a building like a doctor examines a patient or like mechanic check up the car. It ensures that the building and its premises are safe and have no risk. It analyses and suggests appropriate repairs and retrofitting measures required for the buildings to perform better in its service life.
Now question arises that there is any agency or company that they can make health assessment of the building and provide remedial solutions for structural changes?
Health Assessment of building is done in India by various structural designers or agencies but this throws no. of challenges and lead to un-structured way of serviceability. The key challenges understood from the empirical survey are following:
Lack of Awareness:
First challenge is lack of awareness among occupants for conducting the health assessment of their buildings. Lack of sensitivity towards the place where we live and work also causes to take appropriate actions. Most of time we all are concerned about personal safety but sametime it is need of hour for Property safety.
Unavailability of Enterprising Solutions:
Structural Engineers are civil engineers and concerned with design and physical integrity of the building. He is expert and also responsible for solving technical problems to achieve the vision of the projects. But it is observed that most of them lack in ability to develop enterprising solutions for fire and structural audit & remedial solutions arrangements.
However, on this regard an international non profit organisation GHI(Geo Hazard International), pioneer in the field of assessment & providing remedial structural solutions to buildings. Recently they are working with critical buildings e.g. GNRC, a govt hospital in Guwahati & govt department of Mizoram,its prime job is to make an assessment of building or houses & provide remedial structural solutions. In same way, Institute of Fire Engineers carryout survey of existing fire protection arrangements and to suggest necessary improvements, modifications to ensure optimum operational efficiency of the system and equipment. It is very encouraging effort made by them but the problem remains the same as the scope of Speed, Scale and Sustain are very limited with these bodies to carry forward the solutions. Most importantly, how to change the behaviour of people for caring for Personal & Property Safety are also utmost important.
Shortage of Resources:
For conducting structural audit and providing repair & remedial solution needs civil engineers but there is acute shortage of civil engineers in India. Industry experts estimate that India faces a shortage of over 70,000 civil engineers each year. Not surprising, when we have just one in ten IIT students opting for the civil engineering discipline and only 200 of the 1700 engineering colleges approved by the All India Council for Technical Education(AICTE) offer the course. It is estimated that not more than a total of 10,000 civil engineers are created in India per year but between a third and a half of all civil engineering undergraduates either drop off that stream soon after college and take up the more lucrative IT sector. That explains why private engineering colleges have either been reducing civil engineering seats or just shutting down this department over the last few year. Hence, the scope of health assessment of structural audit are very limited in India.
For the Fire hazard, the NCRB report, fire accidents are categorised under the following sub heads:
· Electrical Short Circuit
· Cooking Gas Cylinder/Stove Burst
· Other Causes
For identifying these sort of underlying causes for fire hazards need trained & experience resources that we don't have eco-system to get those resources at our hand.Nonetheless, all the above challenges not only open the doors for employment generation but also throw new business windows in India.
Hence, the above underlying challenge attracts entrepreneurs and throws opportunities in new areas of business. I am going to suggest for following ideas that can solve the bigger problems of the nation and also keep us safe from unforeseen incidents:
1. Skill Development Programme
Govt is giving much of impetus on Skill Development in India as matter of fact to create no. of opportunities for employment. Hence, with the support from govt, specialised programme on Structural audit and Fire Safety are required. This programme can be designed for these specialised jobs as structural auditor and Fire safety auditor. Designing of course & training of subject also needs expertise in view of providing right kind of remedial solutions to the problems. Hence, a resource of superannuated qualified engineers can be used. The nearest reputed engineering college can be in advisory board for better understanding and meeting local needs and also incorporating latest development in respective fields, e.g soil conditions, seismic resistivity, wind pressure, quality of power supply, latest equipment etc. This could be possible cost effective and efficient way to generate mass skilled resources.
2. Service & Solutions for Fire Safety & Structural Audit
Through Skill development programme, capabilities and resources can be built up at back-end. Now the need for reaching out to customers for creating demand for such services and also for developing an eco-system of awareness and sensitiveness towards safety. Services to the problem can’t be uniform for everyone. It is like this. If we go for health check-up, doctor may suggest list of diagnostic test based on age, current health issues, genetic disorders. Or it may be like maintenance of car depends no of distance covered, specific wear & tear, registration of car, . In same way, sales of Service & Solution can be designed based on bye-laws, type of buildings, populations, no of floors, age & area of the buildings, frequency of audit required per year. This is precautionary measures to identify the problem and provide remedial solutions. But there is also need for bringing behavioural change to each of individual. Hence, this can be possible through organising training programme to resident, school, office, hotel & hospital officials. Use of Social media can also be forum for discussion and sharing good practices and observation for improvement in local society and city. Hence, the need of hour is to create the culture of Safety in around we live in.
The model is self sustainable that can used for skill development and also for employment generation. The scope of speed and scale of the business opportunities also in tandem. Finally this leads to solve the implicit problem of all of us in the society and the nation.