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Chamba & Kangra identify buildings for retrofitting in wake of earthquakes

As many as 7 engineers from different departments of Chamba were undergoing training in the Council Of Scientific And Industrial Research–Central Building Research Institute (CSIR–CBRI), Roorkee for the retrofitting of the buildings.

The administration of Chamba and Kangra districts of Himachal pradesh have identified buildings for retrofitting to make them earthquake resistant and hold various earthquake awareness campaigns on April 4, to mark the 117th anniversary of the massive earthquake that claimed over twenty thousand lives.

Deputy Commissioner, Chamba, DC Rana informed that they had identified over one hundred school buildings in the district for retrofitting . As many as 7 engineers from different departments of Chamba were undergoing training in the Council Of Scientific And Industrial Research–Central Building Research Institute (CSIR–CBRI), Roorkee for the retrofitting of the buildings.

Rana informed that to make youth aware of the earthquakes and safety guidelines they would be holding various programmes including mock drills at the educational institutions, volunteers training at Dalhousie on April 5 and 6 adding that in past they had held a 3-day engineers training conducted by CBRI on safe construction practices and retrofitting of the existing buildings.

Notably, on April 4, 1905, a massive earthquake of 7.8 magnitudes on the Richter scale had hit the Kangra district claiming around 20,000 lives besides over 53,000 animals had died and over 1 lakh buildings were destroyed. Another major earthquake of 6.5 magnitude on the Richter Scale had hit the Chamba district on June 1, 1945.

Deputy Commissioner, Kangra, Dr. Nipun Jindal informed that they had identified around 150 school and hospital buildings in the district for retrofitting to make them earthquake resistant.

He informed that the Kangra administration had written to the National Institute of Technical Teachers Training and Research, Chandigarh for the rapid visual screening, a procedure for the seismic assessment of the existing buildings, ”Simultaneously we have also written to the state government for provisioning of the funds” said Jindal adding that some funds had been earmarked for the purpose but the exact funds required would be known after the survey.

Due to the increasing demand for housing units and keeping in view the accommodation required for the ever-growing tourist rush in both Chamba and Kangra districts, a massive unregulated and non-engineered construction work is being carried out especially in the rural areas which may not be of any help in the time of disaster.

Retrofitting is a technique to improve the resistance of a building from an earthquake by optimizing its strength, ductility, etc. and due to the variety of structural conditions of the buildings, the retrofitting process is carried out according to the structural deficiencies of each building .

In past, Guru Nanak Dev University had set up Geo Chemical Monitoring Stations at Kangra, Dharamshala, Palampur, Sarool, Dalhousie with a base station at Amritsar under its Geo Chemical Rare Gas Precursory Studies project which was however closed down due to lack of funds.

Professor Bikramjit Singh Bajwa of, the Physics Department, GNDU said that the previous project had been closed down but now Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology was in process of installing seismometers.

The GNDU’s earlier project which has now been closed down was able to give an indication of 7.6 magnitude earthquake in Pakistan occupied Kashmir three days before it struck on October 8, 2005.

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