Hazard Safety Cell     
                       F- Police HQ                                                              Deorali Building     

                             REPORT ON DISASTER MANAGEMENT

• The five days training for the topic “Multi-Hazard Resistant Design, Construction and Enforcement of Techno-Legal Regime” was held on the 22nd of August to the 26th of August, 2005.

• The training was attended by the following officers:
1. Mr.J.B Subba (Chief Architect)
2. Mr. Shai…. (Superintendent Engineer, Planning)
3. Mr. Praveen Kumar Pradhan (Divisional Engineer, Project)
4. Mr. Vivek Karma Subba (Assistant Engineer, Planning)
5. Mr. Ashok Chettri (Junior Engineer, Field)

• The following topics were discussed during the course:
1. Initiatives of Government of India
2. Introduction to Earthquakes and its parameters
3. Effects of Earthquake
4. Criteria for Earthquake Resistant Design, with reference to IS codes.
5. Retrofitting of existing RCC Buildings
6. Guidelines for Cyclone and Flood resistant design and construction
7. Repairs and rehabilitation of damaged buildings
8. Fire Safety

• The brief training was more of an eye opener, made us aware of our responsibilities as Engineers.
• The training stressed on structural designs and Indian Standard Codes, both of which needs to be taken into account by the fellow Engineers of SPWD.
• Sikkim is one of the states that fall in the highest seismic zone, viz. Zone
• Taking the above fact into consideration, there is an inevitable chance that Sikkim will have to face an earthquake of an extreme magnitude at any moment.
• Setting up an institute for disaster management is just a useless waste of government fund if the institute lacks skilled Engineers.
• Engineers need to be first trained in various fields and then small projects could be taken up during the development period; after which the team could be integrated as an independent cell.
• Following are some essential trainings required for Engineers:
1. STAAD – Software to for structural design of buildings, manual calculation per drawing will otherwise take an impossible amount of time and stress to the design Engineer.
2. GPS/GIS –For identifying and properly maintaining maps of Building structures of various classifications example: Life-line buildings (hospitals and shelters), structures requiring urgent retrofitting, new structures et al. GPS/GIS could also be used for mapping out areas according to soil characters, and various other applications.
• The department requires a proper library with all the engineering materials, such as IS codes, and proper software and computer facility present for Engineers to keep themselves updated.

Is Sikkim prepared for the inevitable Earthquake?

The rise and fall of shares, the upcoming of a storm, and the future of the superstitious seems be predicted; but as far as an Earthquake is concerned the device to predict it is yet to be invented. In order to break a stick pressure needs to be added from the two ends, as we increase the external pressure the stick bends, and finally snaps. The same maybe related to the occurrence of an earthquake, somewhere deep inside the earth, pressure is building up on faults/plates; and finally when one or more of the plate breaks, there is a massive snap with release of energy in the form of heat and sound waves; the sound waves which reaches the earth surface is felt as vibration, just like the sound box vibrating in your music system, this vibration is know as earthquake.

Earthquakes are unpredictable and we will never know when it will strike next. The last earthquake that occurred in Sikkim was almost a decade ago, this only means that through the years gone by the intensity of pressure is building strong; and thus the fault/plate could snap anytime with a very high release of destructive energy. The classification of earthquake prone areas start from Zone one, and keeps increasing with the increase in the seismic intensity; Sikkim falls in Zone Five which happens to be the end of the scale and which needless to say is prone to the most destructive nature of earthquake.

I recall an incident where my Aunts’ building was being constructed, when I asked her the name of the Engineer who designed the building, she pointed to a mason, whose name coincidentally happened to be “Khamba” Singh. Khamba Singh told me that his building could stand at least up to five stories. Well no matter how comical it sounds, most of our buildings are “self designed”; I’m sure the mason above might be experienced in his own way, but at the same time as the owner of the building, you should be responsible enough to take suggestions from qualified engineers. Here are a few tips:
• Avoid projecting and suspended parts on your building, such as cantilevers.
• The structure has to be light as possible; you could do something about the partition walls.
• Continuity of construction should be present; that is all parts of the building should be properly tied together. The parking space below the building should have walls on all three sides, don’t leave it open.

The above suggestions really means nothing if you have not consulted with qualified engineers, I’m very sure it will not be difficult to find private consultants or government engineers who could help you build a safe structure, or help in retro-fitting your existing structure. A small investment in a fire extinguisher that comparatively is worth nothing can save your home from fire, likewise a small investment in retro-fitting your home could keep your property safe from damage, and most of all these precautions keep you and your loved ones alive. Earthquakes don’t kill, unsafe buildings do!
                                                                                    Vivek Karma Subba,
                                                                                    Assistant Engineer,
                                                                               Building & Housing Deptt.        

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