Earthquake Safe India - My Apartment Needs to be Demolished!
by Sandeep Donald Shah02-05-2007
Don't be surprised, this scenario could well be happening in real to you! It
is estimated that 99 percent of the population in India is not sensitized to the
"Earthquake Threat" they are exposed to. The overwhelming majority of the
educated and the tech savvy drew a blank when questioned about the seismic
component of the built environment they were staying and working in.
Approximately 50 percent had heard of the term "Earthquake Resistant", however,
when asked to elaborate as to what it meant, all were silent except a few who
are of the kind "never to accept defeat".
Most believe that Earthquakes can happen only in neighbouring areas, and they
would never be the affected party. Many of the hundreds of buildings in
Ahmedabad that came down like a "pack of cards" during the Gujarat quake had
been occupied for only a few months. What we know little about is that 59
percent of the country is susceptible to earthquakes, and all metros are either
in Zone 3 or 4, which are High Risk.
With the recent real estate boom, property prices have reached stratospheric
heights and that of Mumbai are about to touch the Ionosphere. A 2, 3 or 5 Crore
flat has become a reality in all metropolitan cities, and as per a recent news
report a penthouse in Mumbai is being quoted at 125 Crores. Some of the
builders/ developers offering premium luxury apartments in Delhi, Noida, Gurgaon,
Greater Noida, Faridabad, Mumbai and Bangalore are DLF, Emaar MGF, Unitech,
Ansals, Parsvanath, Omaxe, Vatika, Vipul, Hiranandani, Rahejas, Mahindra Gesco,
Kalpataru, RNA, Runwal, Purvankara, Prestige, RMZ and Brigade Group.
Earthquake Protection of buildings is categorized into three groups. The
first being "Earthquake Resistant (Fully operational)", hospitals and other
lifeline buildings which need to be operational at all times are in this
category. This is also the highest level of earthquake protection possible. The
second category is "Earthquake Resistant (Immediate Occupancy)". The building so
protected, has installed energy dissipation devices/dampers that there is
minimum non-structural damage and no structural damage to the building and so it
is safe for occupancy and use even immediately after a major earthquake. The
third category of earthquake safety is called "Earthquake Resistant (Life
Safety)". This is the lowest level of earthquake protection and is also the
minimum that the Indian Government recommends. Life safety implies that in case
of an earthquake the total collapse of the building will be prevented so as to
minimise casualties. However the building will sustain structural damage and on
most occasions will have to be demolished and rebuilt.
The use of dampers/ energy dissipaters in buildings can add approx Rs. 150 to
200 per square foot to the costs; however, by using these devices which are
designed for absorbing the earthquake energy, the Earthquake Protection of a
building can be brought to "Earthquake Resistant (Immediate Occupancy)"
standards. It is strongly advised that high end properties should not be bought
unless a minimum protection of "Earthquake Resistant (Immediate Occupancy)" is
provided. Such devices come with a written guarantee of 35 years which is
further extendable by another 20 years after the devices are tested.
All buildings designed/built before the year 2002 do not even meet the
minimum earthquake protection standards and are considered dangerous during an
earthquake as they are likely to collapse. A large number of such buildings
exist in Mumbai. These buildings can also be seismically upgraded by using
seismic dampers. In case the building is to be upgraded to "Earthquake Resistant
(Life Safety)" standards the cost would be in the range of Rs. 50 to 75 per
square foot. If the building i s to be upgraded to near "Earthquake Resistant
(Immediate Occupancy)" levels then the costs should be in the region of Rs. 150
to 200 per square foot.
Sandeep Donald Shah
Taylor Devices (India)