4TH Round Table Discussion: EARTHQUAKE RISK MITIGATION IN BANGLADESH

Recently several newspapers published some primary steps for preparedness for earthquake and risk of Earthquake. But expert’s opinion regarding present condition and our steps to encounter earthquake in Bangladesh has not been clearly published. In that context, FPD organized a series of five round table discussions jointly with Bangladesh Earthquake Society (BES) to convey the opinion of expert professionals of different walks of the society in the context of earthquake condition and safety measures for earthquake in Bangladesh. The fourth round table discussion was regarding “Earthquake Risk Mitigation in Bangladesh”

It was presided by the Chairman of FPD Dr. Toufiq M. Seraj and the moderator was the Executive Director of FPD, Architect Kazi Anisuddin Iqbal.

Held on: October 03, 2010

Venue: Sheltech Lounge, Sheltech Tower, 55 B U Kazi Nuruzzaman Road, Dhaka 1205.

The Participants:

  1. Toufiq. M. Seraj, Chairman, FPD,Managing Director, Sheltech Pvt. Limited;
  2. Architect Kazi Anisuddin Iqbal, Executive Director, FPD; Chairman, Building For Future Ltd.;
  3. Engineer Tanveerul Haque Probal, Finance Director, FPD, Ex-President, REHAB; Managing Director, Building For Future Ltd.;
  4. Munaj Ahmed Noor,General Secretary, Bangladesh Earthquake Society (BES); Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, BUET
  5. Tahmeed M. Al Hossaini, Assistant General Secretary,Bangladesh Earthquake Society (BES); Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, BUET
  6. Foizur Rahman Khan, Managing Director, BNS Real Estate Ltd;
  7. Emdadul Islam, Ex-Chief Engineer, RAJUK;
  8. Riaz Ahmed, Executive Engineer, Roads & Highway Department;
  9. Architect Najmul Haque Khan. Managing Director, Shuvastu Development Ltd;
  10. Brigadier General Md. Abdur Rashid, Secretary, Kingdom Builders Ltd.;
  11. Architect Shehzad Jahid, Associate Professor, Ahsanullah University;
  12. Murad Iqbal Chowdhury, General Secretary, REHAB; Managing Director, Mega Builders Ltd.;
  13. Sazedul Karim Chowdhury, Chief Engineer, Water Development Board;
  14. Architect Md. Aka Raquib, Executive Architect, Military Engineering Services ;

The Supporting Participants:

  1. Muhammad Ariful Islam, Research Coordinator, FPD
  2. Najmul Ahsan, Research Officer, FPD
  3. Nilima Nasrin, Research Officer, FPD
  4. Mamun Chowdhury, Research Officer, FPD

Dr. Toufiq M. Seraj

The aim of FPD is to do publication and it is a non-profit organization and registered. The main objective is to facilitate physical development related researches  like housing, transportation; disaster and so on. We have already worked on rural housing. Total 75 resource persons of different walks of professions participated in the round table discussion last year. All the round table discussion were fully recorded and draft reports have been done. Nowadays, many features regarding earthquake have been published in the newspapers. So, this time we are arranging a series of round table discussion on this contemporary issue, Earthquake. We will discuss about different sides of earthquake. It is an informal program. But the recommendations that we will derive from the seminars, will be published formally in the print and electronic media, we are also going to develop a website for FPD from where we all will be benefited.

Kazi Anisuddin Iqbal:

We have already arranged three successful round table discussions, the first one was much more academic, and data based. In the second round table, experts of different walks participated. Professionals from socio-economic field shared their views in the 3rd seminar. In this 4th seminar many technical resource persons from engineering and architecture are present. Now I would like to request all our guests to share their views with us. Today the main theme is “Earthquake Risk mitigation in Bangladesh”. Now Dr. Moonaz will summarize the discussions of the last round tables.

Prof. Dr. Moonaz Ahmed Noor

The Summary of last three round table discussions is as follows:-

Round Table seminar-1

In Bangladesh, depth of alluvium soil layer is about 18-20 km. Most of the recent earthquake’s focal depth was about 10-16 km that means, earthquake occurs within the sedimentation area, not in the plate layer.

In this alluvium zone, earthquake of maximum 5 or 6.2 may occur.

Displacement in fault is 5-7 km. If energy releases at a stretch, earthquake of 7.1 can be created. But this probability is very low.

Round Table seminar-2

A several number of earthquake related awareness program have been done. But preparedness activities for earthquake have not been arranged much. There is a goal to train up 2500-3000 urban volunteers all over the country. Fire service and civil defense did mock drill as preparedness for earthquake.

After considering the current situation of earthquake in Bangladesh and preparedness activities that are taken in other countries, we should also adopt some preparedness actions in our country.

For example:  Preventive measures for earthquake can be included in the curriculum of school, colleges. Again, students can be trained up arranging different sorts of drills about what to do during an earthquake.

There is lacking in our institutional formwork. Here Research and Development (R & D) sector is not strong enough.

Today’s Topic of discussion is Risk Mitigation:

Plate boundary of any major earthquake within Bangladesh is almost absent. Major ones are from Bangladesh almost 200 to 250 Km away. So possibility of strong earthquake in Bangladesh is very low. Such as, according to a report of CDMP, return period of earthquake in PBF 1, 2 and 3 is 900 years. Return periods of Dauki Fault and Modhupur fault are respectively 349 years and 350 years. If displacement occurs at Madhupur fault, earthquake of 7 would be created there. But this possibility is very low.

Some steps should be taken as mitigation measures before earthquake.

First of all, risks are to be identified so that we can know how much risks we are bearing.

Risk can be transferred in case of huge risks.

Some preparedness steps can be taken before any earthquake.

We can adopt four types of mitigation measures, such as: Structural, Locational, Risk transfer and Operational.

Structural measure refers to design properly before building construction. If the design is done properly, then the risky structures can be considered for retrofitting. But it is an expensive measure with respect to our country.

Locational measure means to discourage all kinds of risky building construction or any development on vulnerable areas. So at first, a Hazard Map has to be developed for those risky locations and then all kinds of development activities have to be stopped there.

Risk transfer concept is quite absent in our country. In other developed courtiers, this concept is very well known. For instance, through insurance, risk can be transferred. Any economic loss due to earthquake can be compensated by insurance

Engr. Faizur Rahman Khan

A misconception is seen among the apartment clients. They want to know tolerable Richter scale level of the apartment when they come to purchase any flat. As a result most of the developers have to give them positive response with respect to their business interest. Rather, the buyers should investigate if the apartments are built following the rules and regulation of BNBC.

Emphasis should be given on post disaster management. Such as: rescue activities after earthquake, demolished things etc. So there should be a complete database containing all the data such as- who has the equipments, who will deal and so on.

Engr. Emdadul Haque:

A seminar was arranged between national committee and army jointly after the flood of 1998. The authorized land of RAJUK was divided into 10 zones and contingency plan was prepared jointly with the Army. In each ward, there was participation of local people. Then mock exercise was held in the major areas.

Now-a-days, most of the general people do not understand the difference between magnitude and intensity of earthquake. So the general people must know about Richter scale. There is no database regarding how many buildings collapsed due to earthquake. Moreover though, there is some equipment but even the fire brigade employees also do not know the use of those. Technical personnel of different institutes also cannot use the equipments. So it is crucial to learn the use of modern equipments regarding earthquake rescue operation.

Information source is a big issue in consideration for earthquake. Developers should deem the issue with importance. Many developers want that the government may give them permission for 100 storied high-rise buildings. For such initiatives, risk management will be very crucial. Decentralization should be implemented as early as possible. Dhaka is over populated. Insurance is a big issue of consideration for earthquake. Developers should consider that for their future project.

Last 30 to 40 years, there has been a plan to shift the secretariat building to Sher-e-Bangla Nagar. Satellite town can also be evolved. In the 1990s, building retrofitting was done up to 2nd floor, but now this is quite absent.

Whenever there is a mild shake, we start talking. Lots of suggestions appear, but those dry up after some time. Many exercises were done before; we can find the results from records. Now we should think seriously how we can implement.

Engr. Riaz Ahmed

Awareness and knowledge regarding earthquake will be more effective than any kind of drill. If people become conscious about the risk, they will not dare to make weak construction or let others to do that. While making rules, we must consider our financial and technical capacity. If you take an overdose, the buildings will not be affordable. We should look into improvement of skills to get better result from the same materials.

Dr. Moonaz Ahmed Noor

People should not be overwhelmed with the extensive propaganda on earthquake. Because, most of the news are extravagant and create panic among people. We are uttering two words Magnitude and Intensity. Let me explain what those means here. Magnitude means, earthquake releases the amount of energy and Intensity refers to impact of earthquake prevails upto the limit of surrounding area of the earthquake source. So the concerned people involved with the apartment business should inform the client about intensity not about magnitude. That means, they can say, our building is designed to with such intensity of shaking.

In our zone, earthquake may release the energy at magnitude 6 in the layer of alluvium soil which will be dependent within this layer, so the intensity of shaking will be much lower. We are much away from tectonic plate. So we are reasonably safe. Return period of earthquake is very important and so we should obtain its data scientifically.

Nazmul Haque Khan:

There are some important points to keep in mind for all of us.

Perception of people : All over the country there are 8 to 9% pucca houses, 16 to 18% semi-pucca houses and about 70% are kucha houses. Issues of earthquake to inform to all people is really difficult. So at first, this information should be informed those 8 to 9% people who reside in pucca structures and more exposed to earthquake. Thereby these people may understand about the characters of an earthquake resistant building. It is also necessary to disseminate information from this forum to enhance the public mindset.

Construction management: No institution at graduate level offers any course regarding construction management. So in the market, you will not find skilled or trained people to work properly. We all are suffering from management difficulties. Small diploma courses can be initiated in this situation and government should give much emphasis on this sector.

Standard Guidlines: A Standard guideline should be introduced to maintain the quality of building construction. Every developer will build own structure having followed the rules given in the guideline.

Awareness program:

Like other courtiers, in Mexico, mandatory drill work is arranged in many schools, colleges, public building etc about what to do in an earthquake to make aware the mass people. Similarly such drill can be organized in the schools, colleges and public offices of our country. Such drill works help to grow confidence and disciplinary nature among students and people. REHAB can do also something about this.

Expansion of city:

Surrounding locations of Dhaka city in where there is less probability of loss due to earthquake can be selected for furthers planned high-rise apartments to resolve the housing problem.

Md. Abdur Rashid

Many developer companies are playing important role in the housing construction of Dhaka city. But around the Dhaka city, individually owned houses are more prominent. So developers along with these individual owners, who are playing vital role in this sector, are most important to be aware.

People of our country have very little knowledge regarding earthquake. So they are quickly frightened. Context of Bangladesh in earthquake has to be described in front of all people.

In many earthquake prone countries, (Such as Turkey) adequate training is provided to civil defense along with other squads so that they can render aid in the post earthquake rescue operation and also to help other squads of rescue operation. The armed forces are to be also trained up for rescue operation for post earthquake situation in our country.

Equipments of advanced technology can be used in the earthquake rescue operation to make it more effective. Population explosion is the main reason behind the high risk of earthquake in Dhaka city and thus the excessive housing demand leads low- quality housing construction. Decentralization from Dhaka city can be a good mechanism to get rid of this situation. Planned cities are required to develop with all modern amenities in the surrounding areas of Dhaka city.

Shehzad Zahid

Geological survey is required for horizontal extension. Erroneous views and concepts should be eliminated. If there is a detailed data base on lands, we can decide where to build and where not. We have huge population, they need shelter. So we can’t say no more building. We can study instances from other countries that are facing such challenges.

Murad Iqbal Chowdhury

REHAB can adopt effective actions to raise awareness among the developers. Here I learnt many things. I am not a technical person but I realize that time has come to take conscious efforts. If some of your works need support from REHAB, we are ready to do that. From REHAB we always participate in the causes of the Nation. Together we want to build a better future.

Sazedul Karim Chowdhury

We make the embankments for flood protection and erosions of the river. Those veribunds are mounds of earth, we make roads on that to stabilize them, yet they are not risk free. If an earthquake occurs in the flood season when the water level is higher outside the city and the embankment collapse, can you think what devastation will be here? As people are more concerned about the threats of natural Calamity now, we should proceed to take measures from a compound outlook. I appreciate the initiatives you have taken here and ask you to establish a system for measuring all risks from all calamities.

Md. Aka Raquibe

Buildings should be made according to the required standards to withstand earthquake threat. Architects and Engineers should design accordingly. I work with the Army. I can assure you that our buildings which are being built in recent times are made strong according to the BNBC guidelines. Here in MES, we follow through the whole construction, we allow no compromise. Army is an organized force to serve the nation; they are always active in any disaster, so they have experience. They have reasonable capacity to work.

Dr. Tahmid M. Al- Hussaini

Zone factor of Dhaka is 0.15 which is a significant motion. There are some examples for comparison. There was an earthquake in Bhuj of India. Its ground motion was 0.11. Ahmedabad is 240 km away from the earthquake source. Despite their occurred huge losses in Ahmadabad. Compared to it, it can be concluded that zone factor should be considered in building design of our country.

It is very essential to measure the safety or vulnerability level of the risky structures in Dhaka and others important cities. Specially, the vulnerability of important and significant structures should be assessed on priority basis.

Beam / Column design is an important issue for building construction. Previously, tie design was not emphasized. But now it is seen that these small issues are very vital to strengthen the building. 3D analysis can be used if the building shape is irregular.

There are some misconceptions about earthquake. For example: earthquake of 7 or above magnitude may occur and huge destruction is going to happen etc. Bangladesh earthquake society has already published many articles and reports about earthquake. So this kind of interactive programs has to be increased and these massages are to be conveyed properly to the mass people.

Kazi Anisuddin Iqbal

Thanks to all of you for your participation. We are a little aware now about our capacity against the risks. It’s true that earthquake is not alone to threaten us, we have our traditional visitors like flood, cyclone etc. This series is about to know our position clearly first then we are to let people know how much risk we have. We want our nation to have a correct knowledge about this matter. We hope after our publication, the news media will also have correct information and will be able to help people.

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