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Quake-resistant buildings

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  30 April 2015 12:00 AM GMT

After the Nepal disaster, there is much discussion in the State about the vulnerability of old buildings in congested urban localities, as well as the feasibility and cost of building properly designed, quake-resistant structures. The Kamrup Metro district administration’s decision to assess schools, hospitals, offices, apartments, shopping malls and mobile phone towers in Guwahati in terms of structural strength is welcome, provided something ‘concrete’ really does come out of this proposed survey. There are several ramshackle buildings in Fancy Bazar and Lakhtokia posing a risk to the public. The owners and builders of old buildings will have to submit reports after the joint survey by GMC, GMDA and PWD department. Around thirty shopping malls in the city will also have to file reports about their building safety. These exercises must not provide yet another window for corrupt officials to extort money for overlooking building weaknesses. Designing quake resistant buildings for Assam is not a hopeless task as the general public may believe. Engineers are pointing out that buildings designed and properly built according to provisions of the Earthquake (IS) Code, can surely withstand tremors as many buildings did in Kathmandu on Saturday. But home owners must be aware of building codes and ensure these are obeyed by builders, with the help of the administration if necessary. The tiol Institute of Disaster Magement in its website has put up a simplified guideline for all new buildings in seismic zone V. It shows the essential safety features required in preparing good cement mortar, constructing horizontal seismic bands, vertical reinforcements in brick walls and jambs of openings, as well as ensuring a proper building foundation. Let us remember that four centuries ago, Ahom architects designed structures like Talatal Ghar and Kareng Ghar to withstand earthquakes, by laying beds of stone boulders underneath structures, constructing separate walls outside the underground foundation walls and filling the space in between with loose earth, as well as digging water bodies nearby. If there is a will, local genius will find a way.

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