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Accidents affect us differently: We need a mechanism to audit unsafe structures

By Anuj Cariappa

New Delhi, Nov 21: It is never easy to lose a loved one and that too in an incident that none could have imagined.

Earlier this week the 67 year old president of the Vasant Kunj Enclave B Block residents' welfare association passed away after a portion of the wall adjacent to his house collapsed on him.

Accidents affect us differently: We need a mechanism to audit unsafe structures

Pratap Singh Tanwar who had recovered from COVID-19 last week was relaxing in the lawn of his bungalow with his family when the incident took place at around 7 pm on Monday.

It is often perceived that a person can do what ever he or she may like on a land that belongs to them. Owing to this attitude, many do not raise their voice and object to things that are illegal just because it is not taking place on their land. However that was not the case with Tanwar. He had in fact raised concerns on various occasions about the structure and even pointed out that it us unsafe. Unfortunately it is the same structure that claimed his life.

Santosh Kumar Singh, Tanwar's son-in-law told OneIndia that this is basically a construction which is adjacent to his father-in-law's house. This construction is also the exterior wall of their bathroom. One section of this fell on my father-in-law, which ultimately claimed his life, Singh also said.

Santosh also says that this is a ticking time bomb and the building must be labelled as unsafe. The negligence in the manner in which it was constructed must come out. The question is how did they get permission in the first place. It would be helpful if it is declared unsafe, Singh further added. I only hope that it should be brought down and constructed by following the mandatory safety norms, he also said.

Our loss is already a loss. We need to secure the rest of our family. Not just this structure, but all such structures such as these must be acted upon. This is something that has to be addressed.

CCTV footage of the wall collapse

The spot at which my father-in-law lost his life was somewhere the entire family would father. Had there been more people, the tragedy would have been worse, Singh further points out. My father-in-law was a central figure and would take up causes and solve them even if they were not related to his family., Santosh says.

I feel that that across India there must be a mechanism in place where such structures are audited so that it does not cause a safety hazard to others. If there is some structure near your building one must speak out and object to it. We have the tendency of keeping quiet and this attitude must change, Singh also says.

Santosh took to Facebook to say that accidents affect us differently. If we classify people based on how they take. Up a cause, we will broadly end up with two categories. One-people who ignore thins until it applies or affects them personally. Two-others who take up the cause even if it does not directly affect them. My papa was category 2 and while our loss cannot be repaired, I would like to raise concerns as I learnt this from my papa.
Singh further writes that if you find yourself exposed to a high rise building that can potentially cause harm, please do not ignore it.

The irony in this case is that Tanwar himself had been raising complaints about illegal constructions in the neighbourhood. He was an active man and would work extremely hard to get basic facilities to the neighbourhood. He had also raised issues about structures being erected beyond the permissible height. However no one cared to stop it, Manish Aggarwal, the RWA general secretary said in a report published in the Hindustan Times.

The Vasant Kunj police where the complaint was registered said that the house owner, Pankaj Singh Pundhir has been arrested. He is an ex-service man working with a private firm in Gurugram.

The family members alleged that the problem began soon after the construction of the neighbouring building that commenced three years ago. In his police complaint, Siddharth alleged that the builder didn't follow the safety norms. We would complain about construction materials falling on our property, but he didn't listen. They would also use substandard construction material.

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