Experts said that more than 80% of buildings in Patna are not earthquake-proof, and warned that they may not withstand a major earthquake in the future, causing heavy losses in lives and infrastructure.
The state capital of Bihar is one of the most earthquake-prone cities according to the National Center of Seismology (NCS), Indian Meteorology Department (IMD). Patna falls under the fourth region, classified as a severe region by the NCS.
With the last reported attack on February 15th, the city is receiving aftershocks most of the times the earthquake strikes the border areas between India and Nepal. On August 21, 1988, when a 6.9 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal near the Indian border, the entire north of Bihar including Patna was shaken for 15 seconds and the tremors left behind cracks in thousands of buildings including the old municipality building in the capital.
In 2015, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck the capital in April, followed by another 7.3-magnitude earthquake in May, although its epicenter was in Nepal. These earthquakes destroyed many of the old buildings in the city.
Bihar Building Byelaws 2014 has guidelines to make new construction earthquake-resilient, the state government decided to identify weaknesses in old buildings and improve their strength through retrofitting.
“However, a few government buildings were not covered under this program,” said Sunil Kumar Choudhury, Secretary General of the Bihar Engineering Services Consortium and the former Bihar State Disaster Management Authority.
He added that the plan aims first to address problems related to important and overcrowded buildings such as government offices, hospitals and schools.
“A large part of the state’s capital has yet to undergo this infrastructure transformation. Work in this direction has been slow-moving.” Even for new constructions, people tend to ignore instructions. He added that the buildings continue to appear randomly.
“People fail to realize that the state is a seismically active region, and while eight regions fall under Zone V, which is a very severe seismic zone, 24 counties including Patna fall under Zone IV – the Severe Zone. Although it is difficult to determine when and where the next earthquake will strike, scientists say that large earthquakes are inevitable.
The former BSDMA official said that since no major Himalayan earthquake occurred after the 8.5 magnitude Nepal earthquake in 1934, when many areas including Munger, Setamarahi, Madhubani and Darpanga were destroyed, the next major earthquake could not be in the near future. Excluded. He said, “This long gap is an indication of another earthquake of the same size in the coming years, and if it does happen, there will be great loss of life and property.”
“The most unfortunate part is that people tend to flout the standards required for earthquake-resistant constructions despite their exposure to earthquakes. Visit colonial interior areas such as Kankarbagh, Postal Park, Chandmari Road, Saidpur and Lohanipur,” said Atul Aditya Pandey, head of the geology department at Patna University. In the city, you will find buildings that were constructed without leaving a minimum of space. “
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PK Mishra, Senior (Technical) Adviser, Bihar State Disaster Management Authority, said BSDMA is working hard to improve things in the state. “It is difficult to make all buildings in the city earthquake proof. Until then, BSDMA provides technical support to various government departments to deal with vulnerability assessment and retrofit work.” He said that training sessions for engineers lasted four days in 36 districts of the state.
Mishra added that construction workers have also been trained. He said, “It is the most important component of the entire effort to create earthquake-resistant buildings, and the method was explained during seven-day training sessions.” Of the 534 buildings in the state, training sessions have been held in 500 blocks. “
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