Quake-resistant cities likely by 2007
Despite all the talk, microzonation plans for just three cities—Delhi, Guwahati and Jabalpur—are in the works .The government has a separate, four year plan to reduce the vulnerability of 38 cities, each home to more than half a million ,to tremblors.
It’s a plan. The official deadline for better preparing people to survive a quake is two years away .Till then ,these densely-populated cities in the three highest risk zones remain vulnerable. Srinagar , on the list would testify to this. And, we haven’t even begun talking of the smaller towns.
The three highest-risk zones cover 55% of the country The 38 cities the government has identified include Delhi, Greater Mumbai, PuneChennai, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Kanpur, Kolkata, Patna, Dehra Dun and Thiruvananthapuram ,along with a number of cities in Gujarat , Maharasthra ,Orissa, UP, MP, Punjab, AP Jharkhand , Karnataka and Kerala.
Government sources accept that work on shoring up the resistance of 38 cities to quakes will take time .Typically says the government ,the majority of constructions in these cities are not earthquake-resistant .Thus, any earthquake striking one of these cities would turn into a major disaster.
The aim is to build capacity on cyclone and earthquake –resistant features in disaster-prone districts, develop disaster management plans and integrate these with development plans locally .By 2007.Let us hope earthquakes keep this in mind.
A separate aspect is microzonation of cities, which tells you which areas—or even colonies—within a city are safer than others, given the soil.
Water and other features .It will guide planners on what kind of buildings should be allowed in which areas, where the lifeline structures—like hospital, schools ,police and fire stations—should be located .It will tell you how to reinforce existing buildings.
The problem is most cities are just growing anyway. They aren’t waiting for microzonation , a complex process which has its own political and real estate sensitivities .
So, we have been talking microzonation a long time, but have done very little. A S Arya, a consultant on seismic issues to the government , says the microzonation of Jabalpur has been completed but the government is withholding it because scientists raised technical questions. The Indian Meteorological Department says the microzonation of Delhi is ready. Arya says it isn’t .According to him, work on microzonation for both Delhi and Guwahati is on V Suresh , who was vice-chairman of the committee which has just finished revising the National Building Code, believes local bodies need to undertake a safety audit of buildings before an earthquake hits.