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[Structural Engineering Consultancy Fees] Introductory Remarks
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Dr. N. Subramanian
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2016 7:50 pm    Post subject: Re: [Structural Engineering Consultancy Fees] Introductory Remarks Reply with quote

Dear Er. Buch,

Yes. I read your good paper in ICJ, which summarizes effectively the problems faced and suggestions to improve our profession. I also wrote a paper and the same is enclosed for ready reference.

As pointed out by someone, enough is said but how to modify the situation is the million dollar question.

I think everything rests with the passing of Engineer's Bill which will give some solutions. Will our PM do the needful?

Warm regards,
Subramanian



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PostPosted: Sat Feb 20, 2016 12:00 pm    Post subject: [Structural Engineering Consultancy Fees] Introductory Remarks Reply with quote

Dear All,

So much good stuff has already been written on this issue and there is little one can add to it. But let me try. 


Let's look at the Infosys model. Ever since Sikka has taken over,  he has tried to change the model from  marketing "services" to selling  "products", because there is far more profit in the latter. The difference is- when you sell a service, it is based on your manhour rate- ie there is a fixed cost and fixed profit. When you sell a product, you price it based on the value it gives to the customer, irrespective of how much or how little it has cost you. All service providers are finding themselves in challenging times. They are still on man-hour basis which essentially means you are little better than a  daily wage earner.  It is not just structural engineers. Believe me, architects are in a worse state than we are. It is  human tendency to pay two times extra for a fancy "smart" TV set even though it cost the maufacturer only 5% more to make it, but nobody will want to pay for better structural services. Why? Because there are too few buildings failing and services are not a tangible item they get immediate pleasure or value out of. 
So most service providers including the chartered accountant, architect, the family doctor, lawyer are feeling the heat unless they are    at the very top of the profession. Up there,  there are other challenges, but not financial ones. So if misery likes company, let us take comfort in the knowledge that other professionals are also struggling.  


Let me add another interesting point. In this very forum there is one consultant who gets x fees from a client and another consultant gets 3x from the same client. So who should we blame for dragging himself down? Is it that we have not learnt to say no to bullying tactics by a client to bring down our fees? But the more wondrous dimension to this is that the consultant who is getting 3x also feels that the fees are too little to sustain a practice of his calibre and he is seeking to sell out as it is near-impossible to close down an office. So then how does the consultant getting x sustain his practice? 


No bill we introduce can legislate virtue. But yes a competency based testing will at least create a first filter. The Medical Council of India, Council of Architecture etc have done little to improve ethics and integrity in their field though MCI has introduced mandatory continuing education requirements and so on. So definitely a Bill will be useful. However, the competency based registration of Structural Engineers in Gujarat via the GCPE Act  was quietly buried by the Gujarat R & B dept. who was tasked with its implementation. I was sounded  that they want to bring in a similar bill at centre since the then CM of Gujarat  is now PM but I fear that it will suffer the same fate as the GCPE. 
@Nilesh- this should come in your topic of Regulating the Profession but pl excuse me for  amalgamating two  topics. 



Fees is a battle we will have to fight independent of the Act.  There may not be even 10% of projects in India being given to Architects as per the CoA schedule of fees. Even the government does not give the fees specified by CoA. So we should not chase the Holy Grail of Professional Bill for resolving  poor fees issue.  What we can try to do is "command" better fees. By our quality of work, by working as a unified community and all adhering to standards laid down by ISSE, ACCE or any agreeable body. This will be complicated because whether we should  charge based on man-hours and other resources needed or on % of civil works and so on will need much discussion. 


Having said the above, I do feel this is a sunset industry. Let's face it, we are simply not seeing good talent being attracted to this branch of engineering and a few  who do, switch to more lucrative or interesting fields later on. There is little we are able to offer in terms of cutting edge   work or revolutionary new theories or materials. That is the nature of our work. Stability, Safety which are our lodestars, are the very words that the youth of today abhor. 


warmly,
Alpa 













On Wed, Feb 17, 2016 at 1:20 AM, Dr. N. Subramanian <forum@sefindia.org (forum@sefindia.org)> wrote:
Quote:
           Dear Er. Buch,

Yes. I read your good paper in ICJ, which summarizes effectively the problems faced and suggestions to improve our profession. I also wrote a paper and the same is enclosed for ready reference.

As pointed out by someone, enough is said but how to modify the situation is the million dollar question.

I think everything rests with the passing of Engineer's Bill which will give some solutions. Will our PM do the needful?

Warm regards,
Subramanian

      jdbuch wrote:                Dear NS,

In the ICJ Dec 2010, My 'Point of View' on 'What ails structural engineers' was published. I attach this article for your ready reference. I have given definite suggestions on what can be done to improve the profession. You also wrote on the same subject at that time.

SEFI forum is competent to deliberate on my suggestions given in the article.

Regards

J.D.Buch




From: "Dr. N. Subramanian"
Sent: Mon, 15 Feb 2016 08:42:45
To: econf@sefindia.org (econf@sefindia.org)
Subject: {E-CONF2016} [Structural Engineering Consultancy Fees] Introductory Remarks
           Dear All,

Please find enclosed the Summary of discussions that took place in the past one week on the topic of Structural Engineering Fees:

Senior Engineer and author Er. J.D. Buch is of the opinion that clients do not pay standard fees due to cut-throat competition, particularly in India. He also felt that the Architects/Engineers who speak so forcefully in various forums on the need of having standard fees, themselves compete among themselves and are prepared to work at the lowest unworkable fee.He says that we should accept this fact and find a solution!

Another friend and Senior Engineer Er. N. Prabhakar feels that there can not be a standard fee, as it depends on the quantum and quality of service that is provided, besides the reputation of the Consultant. He says that there is no such standard fee among other professionals like doctors, lawyers and chartered accountant (I do not think so-CA's have a standard fee structure; My CA quoted one, Specialist Doctor's consulting fee is uniform, I think Rs. 500, and ordinary doctors charge Rs.100 as consulting fee). He rightly says that the consultancy fee paid by the property developers/builders to small consultancy offices (with a staff of say about 30 people), doing mainly building type structures, is very less. He also points out that it is a question of survival for these small offices and hence an united action is needed to fix minimum fees, without any under-cutting, for building type structures.

My friend and another senior engineer Dr.V.Balakumar says that he
gave up his professional practice 8 years ago, since the fee was never paid at the right time and on many occasions the efficiency of the designer was measured by the quantum of steel provided per sq.ft. He could not get more than Rs. 2/SQ.FT. He also mentioned about the steep rise in the salary level of draughtsman and engineers due to the entrance of MNCs.

My friend and another well known Bridge Designer Er. Alok Bhowmick blamed ourselves for not getting reasonable fees. He felt that it is due to the following:

a)      We are not organised enough to set for ourselves, a minimum standards of performance and minimum fee structure.

b)      We are accepting very low fee due to cut-throat competition and also because we know that we can get away performing poorly in the job by hook or by crook.

c)      Due to absence of any licensing regime in the country, there is no accountability for structural engineers and therefore there is no fear for non-performance. We have allowed ourselves to lower our standards and compromised.

d)      We also accept unrealistic schedules for design submissions, and in order to finish on time we compromise on the quality of delivery output, which may surface later.     

e)      There is no fear of doing poor quality work. Whenever there is a structural failure, all people involved in the profession somehow bury the issue till public memory fades. Due to this we do not learn positive things from structural failures.

f)      For our fee to be reasonable, he suggests the following:

- All structural Engineering must be a member of any consulting / structural engineering associations (e,g. IastructE, CEAI ...etc.)

- All such associations / institutions must improve their performance and should be much more active and aggressive in disseminating knowledge, in imparting special training to engineers for continuous professional development and in orienting young engineers in the right direction.
- The Governing Council of all these associations must do brain storming in these lines. They should induct bright and young structural engineers in the decision making team so that they become a part of the think tank from early age.

- All big sized consultancy organisation MUST aim to set a standard of performance in addition to setting a standard of fee. Both are equally important.

Er Alok mentioned about the two guidelines brought out by The Indian Association of Structural Engineers (IAStructE) in the year 2014 for proof checking of buildings and bridges respectively. Er Anees endorsed the views of Er Alok.

Er Deepak Bansal feels that there must be clear and unambitious definition of roles and responsibilities of each professional in every project and that there should be liability provisions on structural engineers for their actions.

Er Ankur Shah feels that many who call themselves as consultants (just because they were in the field for a number of years) do not do their job properly. He suggests that we should have a competent body for validating/rejecting Structural Designs and that Structural engineering license has to be issued only after passing proper exams. His views were endorsed by Er Ajay. Similar views by expressed by Er Ajay Chaudhari.

Er Dipak Bhattacharya expressed that Govt. agencies have their own problems and controls and hence Committee Members of IAStructE, should make separate documentations/Guidelines keeping Government Clients in mind. He feels that due to the clauses prescribed in documents of Govt. agencies, there is no responsibility for the proof checking authorities- Hence they do not do their job properly but collect huge fees, and the responsibility of the design is with the Principal Design Consultants only! This point is endorsed by Er A.V. Bijoy, who also cautions about the importance of designing buildings in accordance with NBC.

Another well known consultant Er Vasant Kelkar explains how structural engineers are not paid well for the design of basements and lower parking and podium floors and we accept them, because we do not have a strong organization/lobby like Chartered Accountants. He also mentions about the escalation of costs of all items such as staff salaries, prices and maintenance costs of software, & computers, but consultants are paid the same rate per sq. ft. as fees by the clients; due to this consultants are unable to pay decent salaries to their staff. Hence he suggests that the fees should be linked to the Cost of Living index. He also paints a dark future as far as structural fees are concerned comparing future designers to the advocates standing outside courts in Mumbai looking for prospective clients!



Er Sunil Sodhai says the Municipal Corporations should not accept simply the Structural Design Certificate but insist on Structural drawings and check them in their own office employing proper Structural Engineers.


Er H.N. Prasannakumar, who is a chief engineer, feels we are not paid properly compared to Architects, contractors, or project co-coordinators. His suggstion is to pay 10 % of total RCC cost as fee for built-up area more than 1 lakh, similar to that paid to the contractor.

My friend and well known consultant Er Umesh B. Rao mentions about the Manual for Guidelines of Consulting Engineers, published by Consultancy Development Center [ Now called as Consulting Engineers Association of India] in 1993 in association with Association of Consulting Civil Engineers and Association of Consulting Engineers. The paper posted along with my introductory remarks discusses about these Guidelines.


Hope to have more discussions and solutions in the next week.

Warm regards,
Subramanian
     



     


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Dr. N. Subramanian
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 21, 2016 5:30 pm    Post subject: [Structural Engineering Consultancy Fees] Conculding Remarks Reply with quote

Dear All,

I am giving below the summary of discussions that took place from 15th Feb till 21st Feb on the topic of Structural Engg. Fees.


Er Irshad Khan  was of the opinion quality of services provided is  related with the fees charged by the structural engineer and hence any one who is charging Re. 1 to Rs. 2 per sq, ft. can not provide good quality of service. He felt that this kind of poor quality has
devalued the structural Engineers. He felt that we need to have a legally binding association for registering structural Engineering practice. In such a situation, the Association can fix a minimum fee structure based on certain guidelines, thus  regulating the field of structural engineers.
Er J.D. Buch cited his 'Point of View' paper on 'What ails structural engineers', published in the Dec. 2010 issue of ICJ, wherein he had given suggestion to improve the profession. He also mentioned about the paper  by the undersigned on 'Are our Structural Engineers Geared up for the Challenges of the Profession' published in the Jan 2011 issue of ICJ (Both the papers were appended).

Senior Engineer Satya Paul felt that Professional jealousy,cut throat competition, no  regulatory authority fixed by Law are some of the reasons that have let down our profession. Though countries like USA and UL have some regulations. India does not have any because Engineers are not considered as vote banks for politicians. Mushroom growth  of many universities,has deteriorated standard of engineering education. Owner does not want to pay to the  engineer,but willing to spend lacs of rupees for construction. Even now Mason/Mistries supervise the buildings, though they may not have knowledge. He even narrated his personal experience in which the contractor, who made some wrong entries in order to make money wrongfully, arranged a vehicle to knock him on the road and his leg was broken. He suggested that Our PM should  be approached to start immediately projects  and to  employ engineers, as Engineers are job creators. our Govt. should be approached for appointing a regulator similar to that available in countries like USA, UK,Germany and France.

Er Bijoy again stressed the urgent need to comply with NBC because he had come across many designs (Architectural Designs) that have not considered the stipulations of NBC. He questioned whether there is a mechanism to educate clients regarding this? or any authority to check whether any building is designed in accordance with NBC? [ in USA,  the contractor  has to get working permit from the authorities and the work will be supervised at critical stages, especially at the foundation level and if the foundation or columns are not according to the standards, the work will be stopped].

Er Gururaja felt that  structural engineering associations or the Govt. should fix standards and register engineers  so that a structural engineers are not under paid  by an architect.

Our Er Alpa informed that Architects and other professionals are also in a similar or worse state than us, with regard to fees. Even consultants who are paid three times the fee than an ord. consultant feels that he is not compensated properly. She feels that No bill we introduce can legislate virtue. The GCPE Act  was quietly buried by the Gujarat R & B dept. So we should not chase the Holy Grail of Professional Bill for resolving  poor fees issue.  What we can try to do is to "command" better fees, by our quality of work, by working as a unified community and all adhering to standards laid down by ISSE, ACCE or any agreeable body.


I thank organizers once again for giving me this opportunity. I personally feel that we are talking about the Engineers Bill which may solve some of the problems of fees, not because it will eradicate under cutting by other engineers, but because it will give Engineers some status in the society which will give some power to us to negotiate.

Finally I thank all Structural engineers who took part in the discussions and wish all Structural Engineers in our Forum all the very best!

Warm regards and Best wishes,
Subramanian
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dssisodiya
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2016 6:00 am    Post subject: [Structural Engineering Consultancy Fees] Conculding Remarks <Edited> Reply with quote

Respected Sir,
whether the summary takes the structure engineering
to somewhere at better position?
I think it does not unless and until we come out with some  strong resolutions.
In my opinion following resolutions required to improve structural consultancy.


1 To be honest in the profession and thus not to compromise on structural safety in front of client or architect or both .
2 Take  oath to charge fee not less that 2% of RCC cost or minimum Re 5 per sqft of floor areas and 3% of RCC cost for special structures other than buildings.( I will start even if  I loose work/s)
2 There are many structure engineers but not all are reliable in the view of clients , in such scenario, senior structure engineers need to take a tough stand on fees charges which will send a good message to the clients as well as architects.
3 Try to get business directly from clients (which I have done successfully for many years ) and deliver drawings directly to the client where the chances of un reported changes (in structural drawings) by architects will not be possible.
4  Learn to say no when client or architect push for lower fee and make unanimous decision not to co operate with such persons.Make an active forum to black list clients or architects who try to cheat on fee part and ask all not to take work of such persons.For some months start non co operation with such persons and the things will turn in our favour.


D.S.SISODIYA
Raipur


On Sun, Feb 21, 2016 at 11:06 PM, Dr. N. Subramanian <forum@sefindia.org (forum@sefindia.org)> wrote:
Quote:
     
Edited
     Dear All,

I am giving below the summary of discussions that took place from 15th Feb till 21st Feb on the topic of Structural Engg. Fees.


Er Irshad Khan was of the opinion quality of services provided is related with the fees charged by the structural engineer and hence any one who is charging Re. 1 to Rs. 2 per sq, ft. can not provide good quality of service. He felt that this kind of poor quality has
devalued the structural Engineers. He felt that we need to have a legally binding association for registering structural Engineering practice. In such a situation, the Association can fix a minimum fee structure based on certain guidelines, thus regulating the field of structural engineers.
Er J.D. Buch cited his 'Point of View' paper on 'What ails structural engineers', published in the Dec. 2010 issue of ICJ, wherein he had given suggestion to improve the profession. He also mentioned about the paper by the undersigned on 'Are our Structural Engineers Geared up for the Challenges of the Profession' published in the Jan 2011 issue of ICJ (Both the papers were appended).

Senior Engineer Satya Paul felt that Professional jealousy,cut throat competition, no regulatory authority fixed by Law are some of the reasons that have let down our profession. Though countries like USA and UL have some regulations. India does not have any because Engineers are not considered as vote banks for politicians. Mushroom growth of many universities,has deteriorated standard of engineering education. Owner does not want to pay to the engineer,but willing to spend lacs of rupees for construction. Even now Mason/Mistries supervise the buildings, though they may not have knowledge. He even narrated his personal experience in which the contractor, who made some wrong entries in order to make money wrongfully, arranged a vehicle to knock him on the road and his leg was broken. He suggested that Our PM should be approached to start immediately projects and to employ engineers, as Engineers are job creators. our Govt. should be approached for appointing a regulator similar to that available in countries like USA, UK,Germany and France.

Er Bijoy again stressed the urgent need to comply with NBC because he had come across many designs (Architectural Designs) that have not considered the stipulations of NBC. He questioned whether there is a mechanism to educate clients regarding this? or any authority to check whether any building is designed in accordance with NBC? [ in USA, the contractor has to get working permit from the authorities and the work will be supervised at critical stages, especially at the foundation level and if the foundation or columns are not according to the standards, the work will be stopped].

Er Gururaja felt that structural engineering associations or the Govt. should fix standards and register engineers so that a structural engineers are not under paid by an architect.

Our Er Alpa informed that Architects and other professionals are also in a similar or worse state than us, with regard to fees. Even consultants who are paid three times the fee than an ord. consultant feels that he is not compensated properly. She feels that No bill we introduce can legislate virtue. The GCPE Act was quietly buried by the Gujarat R & B dept. So we should not chase the Holy Grail of Professional Bill for resolving poor fees issue. What we can try to do is to "command" better fees, by our quality of work, by working as a unified community and all adhering to standards laid down by ISSE, ACCE or any agreeable body.


I thank organizers once again for giving me this opportunity. I personally feel that we are talking about the Engineers Bill which may solve some of the problems of fees, not because it will eradicate under cutting by other engineers, but because it will give Engineers some status in the society which will give some power to us to negotiate.

Finally I thank all Structural engineers who took part in the discussions and wish all Structural Engineers in our Forum all the very best!

Warm regards and Best wishes,
Subramanian
     



     


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V. S. Kelkar
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2016 10:00 am    Post subject: [Structural Engineering Consultancy Fees] Introductory Remarks Reply with quote

Very well written bringing home the stark reality of the status of service providers.

My son who works for Apple always said that why Indian companies like Infosys do not come up with any “product” instead of being only service providers. It is good that Sikka is changing that in Infosys who being well established as service providers can work on Products for sale also.

Best regards,

Vasant Kelkar



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From: Alpa Sheth [mailto:forum@sefindia.org]
Sent: Saturday, February 20, 2016 7:56 PM
To: econf@sefindia.org
Subject: {E-CONF2016} Re: [Structural Engineering Consultancy Fees] Introductory Remarks



Dear All,

So much good stuff has already been written on this issue and there is little one can add to it. But let me try.


Let's look at the Infosys model. Ever since Sikka has taken over, he has tried to change the model from marketing "services" to selling "products", because there is far more profit in the latter. The difference is- when you sell a service, it is based on your manhour rate- ie there is a fixed cost and fixed profit. When you sell a product, you price it based on the value it gives to the customer, irrespective of how much or how little it has cost you. All service providers are finding themselves in challenging times. They are still on man-hour basis which essentially means you are little better than a daily wage earner. It is not just structural engineers. Believe me, architects are in a worse state than we are. It is human tendency to pay two times extra for a fancy "smart" TV set even though it cost the maufacturer only 5% more to make it, but nobody will want to pay for better structural services. Why? Because there are too few buildings failing and services are not a tangible item they get immediate pleasure or value out of.
So most service providers including the chartered accountant, architect, the family doctor, lawyer are feeling the heat unless they are at the very top of the profession. Up there, there are other challenges, but not financial ones. So if misery likes company, let us take comfort in the knowledge that other professionals are also struggling.


Let me add another interesting point. In this very forum there is one consultant who gets x fees from a client and another consultant gets 3x from the same client. So who should we blame for dragging himself down? Is it that we have not learnt to say no to bullying tactics by a client to bring down our fees? But the more wondrous dimension to this is that the consultant who is getting 3x also feels that the fees are too little to sustain a practice of his calibre and he is seeking to sell out as it is near-impossible to close down an office. So then how does the consultant getting x sustain his practice?


No bill we introduce can legislate virtue. But yes a competency based testing will at least create a first filter. The Medical Council of India, Council of Architecture etc have done little to improve ethics and integrity in their field though MCI has introduced mandatory continuing education requirements and so on. So definitely a Bill will be useful. However, the competency based registration of Structural Engineers in Gujarat via the GCPE Act was quietly buried by the Gujarat R & B dept. who was tasked with its implementation. I was sounded that they want to bring in a similar bill at centre since the then CM of Gujarat is now PM but I fear that it will suffer the same fate as the GCPE.
@Nilesh- this should come in your topic of Regulating the Profession but pl excuse me for amalgamating two topics.



Fees is a battle we will have to fight independent of the Act. There may not be even 10% of projects in India being given to Architects as per the CoA schedule of fees. Even the government does not give the fees specified by CoA. So we should not chase the Holy Grail of Professional Bill for resolving poor fees issue. What we can try to do is "command" better fees. By our quality of work, by working as a unified community and all adhering to standards laid down by ISSE, ACCE or any agreeable body. This will be complicated because whether we should charge based on man-hours and other resources needed or on % of civil works and so on will need much discussion.


Having said the above, I do feel this is a sunset industry. Let's face it, we are simply not seeing good talent being attracted to this branch of engineering and a few who do, switch to more lucrative or interesting fields later on. There is little we are able to offer in terms of cutting edge work or revolutionary new theories or materials. That is the nature of our work. Stability, Safety which are our lodestars, are the very words that the youth of today abhor.


warmly,
Alpa













On Wed, Feb 17, 2016 at 1:20 AM, Dr. N. Subramanian forum@sefindia.org (forum@sefindia.org))> wrote:
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2016 12:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear All,

I do not run a consultancy but will like to add my views about typical situation (need not apply to everyone).

As we know, the reason for typically poor and sometimes shameful quality of work is because quality service providers are not being identified nor quality work is encouraged (such as fees and more business for good engineers).

Why quality is not typically preferred? - Mainly for economy to the extent it would hamper quality design. It can be time pressure as well but still first reason appears more relevant - time pressure can be handled even with safe designs.

Who wants to trade off good design with economy? Mainly builder/ contractor - the client of engineer.


Who comes up with bad designs? Engineers in the name of client and in the name of business.

The argument for bad design can be that if a structure stands then it is not a bad design because it works.

But ultimately who is responsible for a design? The engineer.

If so many professionals are responsible why hold only the engineer responsible? Engineer must be responsible for the design - there is no escape.

But why not hold the builder responsible not just for completion of the building but also for a sound design? Builder may not be as responsible/ punishable as the engineer,  but he cannot escape saying he merely executed the design.

If an architect, in the name of 4-5 more parking spaces in a large building wants columns to be curtailed at first floor, architect as well needs to be held accountable to an extent.

But who will make out that a design is good or bad? There is nexus among designers and reviewers as well. They can and do interchange their roles for their respective projects. Even there are so called successful engineers take review fees and do not bother to even review the basics. They cheat even large international industrial clients.

I suggest that the reviewer and engineer nexus can be broken by technology. Why not have a design exchange. An engineer submits her design for review but does not know who will get to review the design.

It can be proposed to the Modi government if that is possible, that in every city a statistical sample of design is collected and reviewed to make out how the local authorities and local professional deliver.

If a design is detrimental, the builder should be financially punished many more times than the savings done in selecting the designer. The designer should be barred from any design activity and his degree be confiscated. After all if someone is calling an engineer 'Chartered Engineer", the charter has to be honored.

One thing that I have realized about engineers is that they are at par with doctors. Doctors save lives and can be more respectable. Engineers as well prevent loss of life and take care.

Unless steps are taken, otherwise those dirty engineers who play even with school children's future (such as if seismic event happens in our place everything will be destroyed - why should we worry about it?)

I also want to point out that there are some engineers who do not prefer to work in Structural Engineering because they do not want to compromise. That is why they do not open their own business - not because they are not capable of running things.

There are engineers who do not even design but are super-efficient in releasing drawings - just note that they kill work opportunity of other engineers. If good designs are followed I am sure more engineers will get to work and more good engineers will enter the profession.

I also request seniors here that Modi seems to have good intentions. Let us use that in making at least a few changes in the situation by using solutions like above or those ones that are more reasonable.
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