URBAN EARTHQUAKE VULNERABILITY REDUCTION PROGRAMME
To address the vulnerabilities of our populous urban agglomerations and to promote mitigation strategies, a sub-component to the DRM programme, the Urban Earthquake Vulnerability Reduction programme has been initiated in forty cities with populations exceeding half-million and falling in Seismic Risk Zones (III to V) around the country along with seven North Eastern capital cities. The programme is being implemented in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack and Sambalpur towns in Orissa.
Objectives of the UEVR Programme
1. To create awareness on earthquake vulnerability and possible preventive actions
2. Capacity building of Govt. functionaries and professionals
3. Development of earthquake preparedness plans at City and ward levels
4. Development of a Techno-Legal regime.
5. Networking knowledge on best practices and tools for effective earthquake risk managements
Components of the Programme Awareness:
We all know that earthquakes do not kill, but poorly designed buildings do. The damage to life and property due to earthquakes is mostly attributed to poorly designed buildings, which sre not constructed to withstand the seismic forces of that particular area. The devastating Bhuj earthquake of 2001 brought out one of the key deficiencies in the approach to Disaster Risk reduction, poor understanding by decision makers and the community at large of seismic related risk in their region and the steps to be taken to overcome the risk. (Bhuj has been in the maximum risk zone since the first seismic zoning map was prepared in 1962). That is why, generation of awareness among the decision makers and the general public haas been considered as the most important factor in reducing the vulnerability of the earthquake prone areas. The awareness generation component of the UEVR project aims at creating large-scale awareness among government functionaries, technical institutions, NGOs CBOs and communities about seismic vulnerability and possible preventive actions.
Community is always the first responder in a disaster situation. A well-informed and prepared community could face any emergency in a better manner and could speed up post disaster recovery process. The programme envisages strengthening of communities’ own preparedness and response system from the family, neighbourhood and ward level to safeguard lives, livelihoods and property in a disaster situation. The prepared community could also be able to transform itself from a community-at-risk to a resilient community. The ward and neighbourhood plans will form the basis of community preparedness for meeting the eventuality. The City Disaster Management Plan will indicate the preparedness and response mechanism at the city level. City Awareness Committees formed under the chairmanship of the Municipal Commissioners / Executive Officers of the Urban Local Bodies will look after formation of ward level plans along with massive awareness programmes among city level officers, comparators, ward members, civil society organisations and citizens, etc .A City Disaster Management Plan will be prepared for each programmed city, which will include various Sectoral plans (health, transportation, water supply etc.) as well.
Training and Capacity Building:
It is a matter of concern that the engineers and technical personnel in Municipal Corporations, Councils and Development Authorities in the country do not have adequate awareness and capacities with regard to the seismic risk and the codal provisions for seismic safety. But they are responsible for construction of most of the lifeline structures which are used for public purposes. The project envisages building up the capacity of these technical people to enable them in design and construction of seismically safe structures. To strengthen the capacities of technical personnel in the relevant Government departments and the construction fraternity on seismic resistant construction, codal provisions, rapid seismic risk evaluation, training programmes are envisaged under the programme.
In addition to the capacity building programmes under the project, the Govt. of India sponsored National Programme for Capacity Building of Engineers in Earthquake Risk Management (NPCBEERM) and National Programme for Capacity Building of Architects in Earthquake Risk Management (NPCBAERM) is also being implemented in Orissa for capacity building of Govt. as well and privately practising engineers and architects in earthquake resistant construction practices.
Engineered structures as well as the masonry and reinforced cement concrete frame buildings have emerged as the most vulnerable aspect of the built environment in India following the Bhuj earthquake. This was mainly attributed to the tendency of many builders to use the cheapest designs and construction materials to increase short-term economic returns on their investment. Large-scale violation of building codes resulted in the enormous losses of life and property. To address this issue, the UEVR Programme envisages the development of a regulatory framework to promote safe construction and systems to ensure compliance. This will include a review of the existing building byelaws with a revision for including seismic considerations, the codal provisions and the enforcement mechanisms for the byelaws. The Programme aims to provide technical assistance to cities to improve plan review procedures in new constructions to ensure compliance with current seismic code requirements and to build insurance requirements in the regulatory mechanism to bring in an additional layer of check for compliance. A compulsory certification course on seismic resistant construction and retrofitting will be introduced nationally for practicing engineers and architects to ensure that competent professionals are generated through out the country for ensuring seismic safety in new and in existing constructions.
Normally, in the Indian scenario, sharing and learning from others experiences has not been one of our strengths. The experience of the Lattur earthquake of Maharashtra did not initiate/improve preparedness measures in Gujarat nor did the experiences of cyclones in Andhra Pradesh initiate preparedness measures in Orissa. To bring in the culture of sharing and learning in the field of Disaster Preparedness and Management, the programme envisages a forum for inter-city cooperation on earthquake vulnerability reduction initiatives, for city representatives and National Level Expert for learning Documentation and sharing of best practices for Earthquake Risk Management and a National Database on Earthquake Risk Reduction and Preparedness and Response Plans at various levels are another integral part of this component. As a parallel programme MHA has also initiated the IDRN (India Disaster Resource Network), which is an online database that will enable officials at the district levels to go online and mobilize support for evacuation, search and rescue, medical assistance and other emergency relief activities. The system includes a nationwide inventory of resources such as equipment and experts in various fields required for an emergency response to disasters.
The race between the next urban earthquake and efforts to mitigate the effects of that earthquake is on. These efforts will have to be multi-faceted as the problem is not only a scientific or engineering problem, but also a social, economic, political and cultural problem. This can be tackled only by motivating societies at risk to become engaged in the conscious management of risk and reduction of vulnerability.
This programme is being implemented in partnership with Housing & Urban Development Department, District administration of Khorda, Cuttack, Sambalpur, Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation, Cuttack Municipal Corporation, Sambalpur Municipality, Bhubaneswar Development Authority, Cuttack development Authority, Sambalpur Development Authority, Civil Society Organisations, Professional bodies/Associations, Communities of the above urban local bodies and other stakeholders.