Chittagong and its adjoining areas are highly vulnerable to earthquakes. Dr Mohammed Jahangir Alam, vice-chancellor (VC) of Chittagong University of Science and Technology (CUET) and city planner, said: “Most of the buildings in the port city lack quake-proof measures and no other precautionary arrangements to face any such natural disasters”. “As a result, around 60 lakhs of city- dwellers in the city are currently living in high risk of natural disasters, like massive earthquake, as the Chittagong and adjoining areas, including Cox’s Bazar and three hill districts of Rangamati, Banderban and Khagrachari are quake-prone zone” he added.
He said more than 1,42,000 buildings out of 1,82,000 are in high risk due to several reasons, including violation of building code, low quality construction, lack of quake-proof measures in the port city of Chittagong. As a result, the risky buildings are likely to be destroyed by a moderate earthquake..
Dr Mohammed Jahangir Alam said: “Most government establishments have no measure for facing natural disasters. Chittagong Medical College Hospital, Chittagong General Hospital, Chittagong Port Bhabon, Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation office, oil companies, including Padma, Meghna, Jamuna, Eastern Refinery Limited etc, the Chittagong Shah Amanat International Airport, Chittagong Development Authority (CDA) Building, Chittagong City Corporation (CCC) Building are in risk of natural disasters like massive earth quake.”
Talking to The Independent he said, there are 1,080 hospital buildings in Chittagong. But, all of these are in risk of natural disasters. There are 21,664 beds in private and government hospitals and clinics. Of these, only 964 beds of all hospitals will be saved if an eartquake measuring around 8 on the Richter scale hits Chittagong. As a result, we have no facilities for saving lives.”
He further mentioned that gas and power stations are in high risk of natural disasters. After an 8-point earthquake, supply of power, gas and other utility services will be stopped. Moreover, we have no equipment to save earthquake victims.”
It may be mentioned that a balcony of a building of the Chittagong Medical College Hospital (CMCH) staff quarters in the Goasibagan area of the newly established Chalk Bazar area in the port city collapsed on Sunday morning. No casualty, however, was reported. The district administration has sealed off a three-storey building. Six families living in the No. 25 building were asked to evacuate the building.
Mohammad Shahidul Alam, additional district magistrate of Chittagong, rushed to the spot and sealed off the building. Shahidul said the building is too old for repair. “As it is risky to reside we sealed it off and asked the residents to evacuate the building”, he added.
Sources said that a total of 54 families of class four staff of the CMCH
reside in five buildings in the quarters. Mohammad Abu Taher, sub-divisional engineer of the PWD, said that the five buildings, Nos 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, were built in 1966 and are highly risky to live in. “We have sent a report about the five risky buildings to the higher authorities twice in 2012 and last month of this year, but no action has been taken in this regard,” Taher said, adding that they started the repairing work on request of the staff but the risk of the building could not be reduced by repairing.
Meanwhile, a six storied building named Kohinoor Manson at Shyamoli Residential Area at Sholoshahar in the port city tilted on Saturday. The police and Fire Brigade rushed to the spot and made the building vacant within a short time. So, there were no casualties. The Additional Commissioner of Chittagong Metropolitan Police, Md Shahidullah told the journalists that a building named Kohinoor Mansion had tilted on Saturday.”
Sources said, greater Chittagong is a high-risk zone for earthquakes. But there is no active seismic centre in Chittagong to detect the earthquake. The earthquakes created panic among the around 60 lakh dwellers.
Sources said, more one hundred high-rise and multi-storied buildings are at risk in the port city due to expiry of dates and faulty construction. The authorities, including the CDA and the CCC are yet to take any measure after several buildings tilted recently.
According to the sources, the CDA identified 400 buildings as illegal. Of these, 60 were high-risk for dwellers. Earlier, the CDA demolished the unauthorised establishments, portions of malls or buildings for not having underground parking spaces or for violating the design.
The identified risky buildings are mainly located in the old parts of Ghat Farhadbegh, Chaktai, Khatunganj, Patharghata, Firingibazar, Korbanigonj, Andarkilla, Chandanpura and Ambagan.
But the CCC is yet to demolish 60 risky buildings in the face of resistance of the building owners. Some of the owners demolished their buildings as per the directive of the CCC and the CDA.
The CCC mayor Alhaj M Manjur Alam said: “The CDA identified the illegal and risky buildings and sent a list to the CCC. But we cannot demolish the buildings as the owners filed a case against the notice of the CCC and court has issued a stay order. ”
He further said: “The CDA should tak action against violation of government rules.”
-With The Independent input