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Spate of building collapses reflects India's poor construction practices

A spate of building collapses in India in the past year have killed over a hundred people, raising concerns about the safety of the country's booming construction sector.

NEW DELHI: A spate of building collapses in India in the past year have killed over a hundred people, raising concerns about the safety of the country's booming construction sector.

According to the country's National Crime Records Bureau, an average of seven people die in building collapses every day.

Trust Heights proved quite contrary to its name. The 12-storey residential block under construction in Chennai, southern India, toppled on June 28.

Hours later, another building collapsed in the northern capital New Delhi.

Experts attribute the increasing regularity of building collapses to a host of factors.

These include flawed building plans, poor construction materials, safety violations and a lack of inspections.

Political observers are also blaming corrupt practices between politicians, the police and construction companies.

Arvind Kejriwal, former chief minister of New Delhi, said: "The politician-police-municipal corporation-builder nexus led to the building collapse in Delhi. If we don't come down heavily upon those responsible in one case, then incidents like these would continue to occur and claim lives of the people."

Structural engineers say the problem starts from a building's design and the site's foundation.

Er T. Selvam, a civil engineer from the Indian Green Building Council, explained: "The site selection is more important. And according to the bearing capacity of the soil, you have to choose the type of foundation and the depth of foundation. And you have to take enough care in executing them as designed."

Adding to these issues is the system for obtaining building approvals.

Since developers find the process cumbersome, they often take shortcuts such as bribing officials to get their building plans and designs approved quickly.

Experts suggest one way to tackle this problem is to ensure qualified engineers and architects are hired for each project.

The alarming increase in building collapses across the country is evident of the regulatory cracks in the construction sector.

With the growing demand for affordable housing and retail space, authorities need to toughen penalties to ensure developers adhere to legal construction practices.

Corrupt builders must be held accountable from the start so that people's lives aren't at risk each time a building goes up.

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