The Gorkha-Nepal earthquake 2015 with magnitude of 7.5 brought tremendous loss of life and property across 17 districts. Many buildings (specially heritage sites) could not bear tremor of earthquake, finally crumbled in mean time lots of structure are structurally damaged and potentially posses threat to live in. The major reasons of damages so far distinguished as far as my knowledge.
♦ What was Behind
• Structural Defects
We have lots of civil engineer and construction experts produced annually within country and from various foreign country still we lack environment to utilize knowledge and expertise to use in practice. We lack good housing and building design ethics, consciousness among house builders. The trend of consulting contractors and suppliers is more than engineers by customers/clients.
• Introspection of rules, policies, codes, inspections, priorities
Absence if present corrupt governmental bodies carryout inspections and implement rules, policies, codes on ground level. There is huge gap in design submission on departments and building different is common habit of people in Nepal. Initially they build house of multiple storeyed houses later compensate by paying fine or bribing government officials.
• Absence of consciousness and thoughtfulness in people
People want to build house in short duration with minimum investment. The gap in engineering values while building houses are still lagging far behind people’s perception. They prefer for early maintenance rather making investment for long run. Narrow constrained mindset of people had to pay huge loss of life and property.
• Improper use of residential house for housing for commercial purpose
There is general confusion about proper use of availability of space of house. Many buildings built for residential purpose have been used for commercial purpose. The continuos loads on beam and column makes foundation of building built for resident if used for commercial purpose. There are several cases of building collapse by this reason.
• Inadequate innovation to adapt into Nepali (local) Culture
We do not have engineeringly inbuilt values in our traditional way of building house. The heritage sites mostly have aesthestic values but lagged in terms of strength and shock absorption. There should be integration of engineering knowledge into Nepali cultural and traditional way of buildings monuments and heritages.
• Faulty and Low Standard raw materials
The use of faulty and low standard of materials for construction. People seek advice from builders for using materials rather engineers.We do not follow regulated and standard materials for construction. Our using pattern depends on availability rather than necessity.
• Gaps and Mismanagement in use of Expertise
We have ignored use of experts views and limited engineering values just into listening. We have become experts of our own and start giving advice free of cost on random topic about building houses. Probably “little knowledge is dangerous” has been true in some sense to us. So lets stop acting like if we know everything, stop giving view and start listening to something too.
♦ What Has To Be Ahead
• Effective implementation of 4R’s
The most difficultly is of recognizing what we have to do with faulty buildings. This is not only headache for common people but for expertise too.So lets explore option which normally expert or techie people prefer to do.
This is done when building has some limited damages on outer surfaces and only after confirmation of no structural damages.
This is done when building has suffered trivial structural damages but still standing. There has been damages of particular beam or column so only those required are constructed.
This is done on absolute structural damages. If the building is tilted, crumbled, standing with support, even standing but foundation is beyond re-construction. The debris are removed and it undergoes similar process of building new house.
This is process of supporting column and beam with extra reinforcement of steel and concrete. For carrying out this process analysis of stress, loads and forces are evaluated on various parts of building. It requires highly expert team of engineer and sophiscated technology which makes it lot more costly.
• Geo-Technical studies of Construction Sites
We did not have any rules and regulation for studying strength of construction sites except for commercial buildings but we need this technique for residential houses too. The earthquake showed some are more prone to earthquake while some at least less. So geo-technical study provides information whether specific area can hold load of house being built. According to survey we can decide what type of building we can built in what kind of area.
• Regulated designs and evaluations
The technology is fast evolving so is innovation in building design. We have efficient design enough to earthquake resistive. The challenges lies on implementation and evaluations of such design practices. This initiation of adopting technology, design should not be limited but followed for coming period.
• Innovative and Earthquake Resistance Building
We have various housing system from village to cities. So it will be hard to completely adopt design given by others what requires is our own innovation which will keep our cultural and social values en-tact with housing system. Rather depending on their designs we can lend hand to modify and purify ours ways.
• Appropriate use of Engineering Values, ethics, codes and Expertise
We need to implement engineering values, ethics, codes and experts in fields. Lets us not limit our manpower in office but wisely use them in field for construction.
• Quality and Standard Raw Materials
There should be regulatory body to look after quality standard of raw materials. Proper implementation of procedures for manufacturing, traveling, inventory, delivering and using should be done. The use of proper materials only strengthen foundation and longivity of building life.
• Raising Awareness and Consciousness about housing in general people
People must be aware about housing in general. They must recognize that cost is not only final things that has to matter in judging housing system. The focus on cost should shift to durability and sustainability. The earthquake have shook us all and we have learnt from it much. Hope this will be lesson for us so we can build safe houses for future.
The trend on housing is shifting slowly. Hope the process keeps on purifying better alternative will come out regarding building innovation not only in urban areas but also in rural parts of Nepal. We need to enter into new era of Housing Design and Resilent Buildings for Naya Nepal.