Auditors say building rotten to core,HC wants govt to probe

The report sent to the sub-divisional engineer by auditors Shashank Mehendale and Associates on July 4 stated that the strength of all concrete samples procured from the building was below the required grade of M20.

Written by MAYURA JANWALKAR | Mumbai | Published: August 20, 2013 2:05 am

The comprehensive strength of all concrete samples collected from the metropolitan magistrate court building in Mazgaon “is much lesser than the prevailing minimum strength of concrete used at the time of construction,” a report of a structural auditor had stated.

Following a letter written by the superintending engineer (PW) circle,the Bombay High Court administration has written to the state government requesting it to hold an inquiry into the matter as the crumbling court building that was urgently evacuated on July 18 is only 16 years old.

The report sent to the sub-divisional engineer by auditors Shashank Mehendale and Associates on July 4 stated that the strength of all concrete samples procured from the building was below the required grade of M20.

“Only two of the 30 samples show strength above M15,the minimum grade of concrete used for RCC work at the time of construction of the said building. The strength of almost 80 per cent of the samples was below M10,” the audit report stated.

The auditors had extracted cement samples from different floors of the five-storey structure and found that the ratio of cement,fine aggregate and coarse aggregate in the cement mixture used was leaner than the required 1:2:4 ratio. Their report also pointed out that the cement content in the samples was lesser than the prescribed requirement,making the structure less durable. The structure would require excessive repairs and deterioration would be faster,the auditors claimed.

Following their report,the superintending engineer wrote to the Registrar Inspection-II of the High Court on July 18,stating that the quality of concrete used in the building was “doubtful”.

The engineer told the HC,“The structural consultant has suggested props in the entire building.”

“As the structural members have become weak and do not have the required strength,the strengthening will be unviable and the building needs to be reconstructed,” he quoted auditors as saying.

The engineer,however,stated that a second opinion was being sought from Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute (VJTI) in Matunga.

The HC,in its communication to the state government,however,stated that the engineer in his letter of July 18 had mentioned that in a meeting with officials of VJTI,they had orally conveyed the same opinion as suggested by the structural consultant.

Apart from the use of an inferior grade of concrete for the construction of the building raised by the government’s Public Works Department,Shashank Mehendale and Associates also found that chloride content in all 30 samples was more than permissible limits,which led to corrosion of reinforcement.

The HC administration,which immediately shifted the courts from Mazgaon to Sewree and made them functional on the very next day of evacuation,has said in its letter to the government,“If there had been any delay in shifting and any part of the building had collapsed,there could have been loss of life and limb,exposing the High Court to severe criticism.”

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