100 m people live under risk of earthquake
Tuesday, 01 April 2008

Experts Sunday laid emphasis on massive coordinated efforts under a long-term plan to reduce damage by earthquake in Bangladesh where some 100 million people live under risk of the unstoppable natural hazard, reports UNB.

They said only creating public awareness wouldn’t be sufficient to face earthquake rather the main focus should be given on rebuilding the cities with master plans.

The experts rang the alarm bell at a roundtable titled “Earthquake Risk of Bangladesh: Preparedness and Limitations” was arranged jointly by USAID, Care, Nirapad and Daily Somokal at the CIRDAP auditorium in the morning.

Dr ASM Maksud Kamal, national expert on earthquake and tsunami preparedness under Comprehensive Disaster Management Programme (CDMP) presented a keynote at the roundtable moderated by Dr Mehedi Ahmed Ansari of BUET’s Civil Engineering Department.

Senior project expert of CDMP SM Morshed, Nirapad chairman Abul Haseeb Khan, disaster-management expert Prof. Moniruzzaman, Dr Mallik of Bangladesh Earthquake Society, executive engineer of Public Works Department Sirajul Haq, RAJUK’s chief engineer Shah Alam, chief town planner of Dhaka City Corporation Sirajul Islam, Prof. Kamrul Hasan of Dhaka University Geology Department and Prof. Abul Kalam of Urban and Regional Planning Department of Jahangirnagar university, among others, addressed the discussion.

DCC chief urban planner Sirajul Islam said the national building construction code’1993 was updated in 2006, but, thereafter, no ministry or department was assigned to implement the code. Prof. Abul Kalam deplored that Bangladesh has no policy on land use whereas a country should have plan for every inch of her land. He further said there was a law enacted many years ago to appoint urban planner at every pourashabha of the country, but the law still remained unimplemented.

Dr Mallik said most of the buildings in the major cities were built without following building codes. “We cannot even imagine how terrific disaster is coming.” PWD executive engineer Sirajul Haq observed that mysteriously the department has been laid inactive from working with the mitigation of earthquake losses.

“I strongly recommend the government to turn the PWD into such an institution which will work as regulatory body and will have the authority to demolish and reconstruct buildings.” About the RAJUK, many speakers said that RAJUK cannot work effectively for a lack of manpower and for corruption.

They said geological maps for every region of the country should be available to the government, non-governmental institutions and also to the public so they can know which areas of the country are earthquake-prone. A representative of the Fire Service Department told the roundtable that all efforts would go in vain if modern equipment is not arranged for disaster management. Bangladesh being a part of Bengal basin is one of the most seismically active zones of the world.

Here land is extremely prone to earthquake disasters. In the recent past, a good number of tremors of moderate to severe intensity had already taken place in and around Bangladesh.

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