Highrise Apartments For Def Personnel Have Structural Defects, Unsafe To Reside, ET RealEstate

July 3, 2023

KOCHI: A dream home for defence personnel in the heart of the city is becoming a nightmare for its residents.

Chander Kunj Army Towers -— a three-tower apartment complex of the Army Welfare Housing Organisation (AWHO) built in Silver Sand Island, Vytilla in 2016 — as a retirement home for over 260 families reportedly has serious structural issues making it unsafe to reside.

AWHO is a registered society committed to provide low-cost and quality housing for serving or retired defence personnel.

According to study reports by agencies such as Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras, Barton Hill Government Engineering College (GEC), Thiruvananthapuram and Bureau Veritas India Limited (BVIL), the buildings, mainly 29-floor towers B and C, are in distress due to faults in design, poor construction standards, excess chloride (salt) content in the concrete and the use of low quality construction materials.

BVIL’s summary report handed over to the residents in June stated that the buildings have only a service life of up to 10 years in the present condition if they are not strengthened. The report also said if they are not strengthened, and any one or more structural elements fail, the buildings may collapse. The residents have started moving legally against AWHO. They alleged that AWHO has been trying to cover up the irregularities in the construction since 2018 instead of speeding up comprehensive repairs. Though TOI tried to contact AWHO officials in Kochi, they refused to comment. A statement in its website put up in January said they have started measures to address the issues.“…Certain repairable aberrations have come to light in the project. AWHO has initiated necessary measures to address these since 2021. BVIL has been engaged, in consultation with the Chander Kunj Army Towers Apartment Owners Association to undertake inspection, tests and analysis, culminating in corrective repairs to be undertaken by a reputed construction agency under the supervision of BVIL,” the statement said.

Colonel (retd) Ciby George, a resident, said the poor construction standards raise questions of corruption in the project. Based on George’s complaint and a court direction, police registered an FIR in June 2022 under IPC Sections 420 and 406 (cheating and criminal breach of trust) against top AWHO officials.

“The buildings, constructed in 2016 and handed over to the residents in 2018, has started showing damages in 2018 itself. Initially, layers of concrete peeled off from walls and pillars but later we found cracks in concrete beams, staircases and floor slabs, corrosion in steel rods, leakages in basement and floor and wall tiling losing its bonding. AWHO made a few cosmetic changes to minimise the visibility of the damages. The beams and columns are also corroded, cracked and spalled. The original BVIL report has not been shared with the owners yet,” said George.

“I bought the flat for Rs 75 lakh. It is our life’s savings and we have been cheated. Its estimated 10 year service life is nearly over as per BVIL report. Continuing occupation is risky and a threat to our lives. According to the owners’ association, repairs are estimated to cost Rs 30 crore, but it needs evacuation of the inmates,” George said.

  • Published On Jul 3, 2023 at 01:00 PM IST

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