India: move to make tempered glass mandatory

The Indian Ministry of Urban Development has begun moves to bring in legislation requiring the use of “safety toughened” or “tempered” glass for all buildings over10 metres in height (or rising to thr…

The Indian Ministry of Urban Development has begun moves to bring in legislation requiring the use of “safety toughened” or “tempered” glass for all buildings over10 metres in height (or rising to three floors). The guidelines have been drawn up following wide-ranging consultations; it is only a matter of choosing the time for piloting the bill, according to Mr P. Ganesh, Chief Executive, Glass & Glazing Systems, manufacturers of tempered glass based in Thiruvananthapuram. Recent incidents of falling glass debris from high-rise structures causing fatal injuries to two young people in Mumbai and elsewhere are believed to have accelerated the move for legislation. Toughened glass is more resistant than untreated glass and if it does shatter, the small size of the fragments makes it less dangerous. With the prospect of legislation, glass manufacturers, glaziers, architects and builders having already begun the switch to tempered (either toughened or heat-strengthened glass) in new building/construction projects. According to Mr Ganesh, there is no conceivable reason why the move should not reach its logical conclusion given that Indians are eager to benchmark themselves against the US or EU standards in every field of endeavour. In the US and EU, tempered glass is already a standard specification in buildings where it is not yet required by law in India. The trend is spreading in India, even in Kerala, with some builders having already made the change to the new regime. The Ezhimala Naval Academy, currently under construction in Kasargod, uses only toughened glass for panes, including windows and even ventilators. Mr Ganesh said it appeared to be a considered decision, with safety and security aspects given due consideration. The new technopark building being built in Kochi also makes use of toughened glass for the entire glasswork. The horizontal glass tempering plant at Glass & Glazing Systems, recently imported from Italy, is the only such plant in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The only other plant in south India is located in Bangalore. The company“s capabilities include tempering of glass of thickness from 4 mm to 12 mm in plain, tinted and reflective finishes for various applications, including structural glazing, shop fronts, counter tops, shower cubicles, frameless glass doors and planar glazing. Asked about the size of the Kerala market for toughened glass, Mr Ganesh said the State was a virgin market. An immediate source of demand is for toughened glass shower cubicles in new hotel projects and apartment blocks. The real estate sector has been improving in recent times, and internal surveys done by the company indicated a demand for 100 to 150 shower cubicles in the high-rise apartments under construction in different parts of the State. This demand should stabilise over the next six months. “Our surveys showed that 200 to 250 structures were coming up in the predominantly NRI belts of Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam, and Kozhikode, Kottayam and Malappuram. At least 40 to 50% of these structures are expected to go in for having shower cubicles,” Mr Ganesh said. There is also good demand for commercial building, including shopping complexes and large showrooms. Glass tempering is a process in which the impact strength of normal annealed glass is increased by 4 to 5 times. The process involves heating the glass to near melting point (650 degree Celsius) followed by rapid cooling. The sudden temperature difference puts the glass into a state of compression with the centre core in tension. Tempered glass gets added strength from the compressed surface.