1.42 lakh buildings in Chattogram vulnerable to earthquakes: Experts
Authorities have to ensure building codes are properly followed
As many as 1.42 lakh buildings in Chattogram city are vulnerable to earthquakes and the government can help renovate the buildings to curb the risks by providing financial and other assistance, said experts.
"Out of 1.83 lakh buildings in Chattogram city, 1.42 lakh are at risk. The government can provide loans [to building owners] at zero interest so that they can make the risky buildings stronger soon," said Prof Md Jahangir Alam, vice chancellor of University of Science and Technology Chittagong, at a discussion meeting on earthquake awareness organised by the university on Sunday.
Out of 1,033 schools in the city, 740 are weak and susceptible to earthquakes. Plans need to be made soon to make these schools stronger, he added.
"At the same time, tables used in schools and colleges need to be strong enough so that they can be used as immediate shelter by students during earthquakes," the professor said, adding that "We have already submitted designs to the Ministry of Education of what the tables of educational institutions will look like, but we have not found it reflected or implemented at any school."
In many buildings, ground floor pillars are demolished to be used as private schools, posing great risk in earthquakes. So awareness should be created among teachers, guardians and others so as to avoid probable risks, he added.
"If we want to reach vision 2041, we must plan immediately to prevent earthquake disasters. Earthquake-prone buildings need to be identified and demolished and if they cannot be demolished they must be made stronger. Also, houses in the Chittagong Hill Tracts should be made of wood and bamboo," said Professor Jahangir.
According to the Earthquake Engineering Research Centre of Chittagong University of Engineering and Technology, multi-storied buildings constructed along the banks of the River Karnaphuli are at risk should there be an earthquake. So we have to be careful beforehand and ensure that building codes are followed properly, he said.
Jahangir Alam also said Chittagong Development Authority needs to be more vigilant. Only taking approval is not enough rather monitoring should be strengthened till the building is completed. Many build 8-story buildings with approval for 5-story ones. These buildings might be more affected by earthquakes. The hills of Bayezid-Faujdarhat road have been cut straight instead of making slopes.