C.V.R.Murty, Umesh Dayal, Jaswant N. Arlekar, Sailendar K. Chaubey and Sudhir K. Jain
The performance of the structures in the Kachchh area serves as an excellent test of the efficacy of Indian building codes and construction practices
A powerful earthquake of magnitude 7.9 struck western Gujarat at 8:46 am on 26 January 2001; over 20,000 persons are reported dead and about 1.7 lakh persons injured. The quake caused widespread damage and destruction to both rural constructions and urban buildings and industrial facilities. This event is very significant from the point of view of earthquake disaster mitigation in India. While the five moderate earthquakes that struck India since 1988 consistently demonstrated the vulnerability of the rural constructions of India, this event pointed out that even some of the engineering structures built with the traditional wisdom of design and construction prevalent in this country, are vulnerable.
The earthquake provided numerous examples of geotechnical and structural failures. These include collapse of modern reinforced concrete (RC) frame buildings and damage to earthen dams, bridges and other industrial facilities. Detailed studies are required to investigate into the exact cause of failures. However, it seems that the general practice of design and constructions do not incorporate earthquake resistant features in them. Therefore, the performances of these seismically deficient structures offer important lessons for immediate corrections in the time ahead. Interestingly, the deficiencies now recorded after the 2001 Bhuj earthquake were already known and well documented after the past earthquakes across the world.
This photo presentation is a brief graphical summary of the salient structural and geotechnical damages recorded during a reconnaissance survey conducted by a team of 15 investigators (consisting of geologists, seismologists, geotechnical engineers, structural engineers and emergency managers) jointly headed by Professor Sudhir K. Jain of IIT Kanpur, and Dr. William Lettis of William Lettis & Associates, Inc, USA. The Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI), USA, and the Department of Science and Technology (Government of India), New Delhi, supported the investigation to document the important lessons learnt from the earthquake.n
- With several weeks gone by after the earthquake, as the people of Gujurat are trying to rebuild their life together brick by brick there is a severe shortage of trained structural engineers in the region who can assess the damages and suggest measures for repair/seismic retrofit of the damaged buildings. Initiatives, both short term and long term, are required to build capacity in the technical community to tide over this earthquake disaster as well as to develop preparedness for upcoming earthquakes in the country.
- The Great Runn of Kutch, the Arabian Sea and the Little Runn of Kutch lock the affected area on its three sides causing large-scale liquefaction and embankment failures as it is near the sea level. 245 small and medium dams were damaged during the earthquake. The earthen embankments of the railroad and highways, the industrial warehouses and the control tower buildings at the port of Kandla suffered major damages owing to both structural inadequacies as well as liquefaction of the ground.