One of the most unreasonable reasons behind tragic and sudden deaths of scores in India happens to be building collapses. In the past two days, two such incidents, one in Delhi and the other in Chennai, have claimed at least 15 lives, while injuring many more; people are still trapped under the debris in both the sites. In cities like Thane and Mumbai, such unfortunate incidents hog national headlines more frequently than any other news reports, and attest to the deplorable state of construction sector in India. In 2012 alone, over 2,651 people died and many more got injured from collapse of 2,737 structures as per government reports. Not only is this a staggering indictment of India’s structural safety standards, it is also a slap on the face of our state administration everywhere. Accidents like this happen on a daily basis and across the nation, without shaking the appallingly inert conscience of our officials, who carry on with the same apathy and ineffectualness as before.
The nexus between real estate mafia, the municipal corporation, the bureaucrats and politicians is all too strong to be affected by the daily casualties which result from apartments coming crashing down. Low quality cement and bricks, unsustainable rate of construction and flouting every form of environmental norm to allow mushrooming of illegal buildings in every part of the large and small metros, have in sum not only put lives of thousands at risk, they have even led to high inflation and unfathomably steep cost of buying home, pushing it much beyond the reach of the aam aadmi. As super-luxury towers come up and cater only for the rich, the middle and lower classes are being pushed out of the heart of metropolitan cities and are being forced to live in suburbs and shanty towns with terribly substandard constructions and practically no state-granted facilities. The real estate bubble is not only increasing the gap between rich and poor in India, it is also precipitating a cancer of shabbily-built colonies which is fast becoming the biggest health hazard in metro cities.