Case Study 13

A building permitted for three floors, while being extended illegally for 6 floors by a builder, collapses. Therefore, a number of innocent labourers including women and children died. These labourers are migrants from different places. The government immediately announced cash relief to the aggrieved families and arrested the builder.

Give reasons for such incidents taking place across the country. Suggest measures to prevent their occurrence.


The case involves the following ethical issues and values:

  1. Lack of respect for the law
  2. Safety of Workers at the Workplace
  3. The exploitation of migrant workers
  4. Welfare nature of the government – cash relief to victim’s family.

The reasons for such accidents taking place across the country are as follows:

  1. Lack of respect for the law – building design and construction guidelines are violated very often.
  2. Abdication of responsibility – by designer, engineers, contractors etc.
  3. Lack of accountability – diffused accountability leads to less punishment and deterrence.
  4. Crony capitalism – nexus between politicians, builders and bureaucrats.
  5. Poor law enforcement – lack of efficient policing and slow judicial process encourages illegal construction and leads to a culture of impunity.
  6. Less active citizens – less awareness of citizens; fewer complaints against illegal construction.

The following steps can be taken to prevent such accidents –

  1. Clear guidelines and policies – regarding building designs and construction.
  2. Proper accountability – of builders & contractors, engineers, designers and authority giving the clearances etc.
  3. Rule of law – efficient police, speedy justice against violation of the law.
  4. Regulation of the real state sector – registration of all builders, ensuring safety at the construction site, audit of the quality of construction materials etc.
  5. Use of ICT and technology for monitoring compliance – the height of buildings in the city.
  6. Awareness of workers – regarding the permissible height of buildings and encourage them to not work at illegal sites. Emphasis on safety measures of workers at workplaces.
  7. Encouraging participation of citizens – through RTI and complaining to appropriate authorities against illegal construction.

Gunnar Myrdal, a Swedish economist-sociologist has termed Asian economies including India as a soft state that does not have the motivation to legislate laws or enforce the already legislated laws and does not have any discipline in public life. We need to overcome such an impression of a “soft state” and stop illegal constructions in our nation causing huge social, economic, political and environmental losses

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