There is shocking unpreparedness to combat disaster from earthquake among all residential and commercial developments
We have already experienced the beginning of seismic activity in Delhi NCR. But, this was just the precursor. The advent of the era of earthquakes has certainly begun. And, this is only the tip of the iceberg! The Union Home Ministry's disaster management experts have already issued warnings about the impending multiple high magnitude earthquakes in the North Indian region which prominently features Delhi NCR. These are warnings that have gone unheeded. Developers are turning a blind eye to the international earthquake safety performance standards like ASCE-7 and ASCE-41, as neither the public nor the RWAs are even remotely aware of it, all are waiting for a disaster to strike before performance-based earthquake safety designs can be incorporated. This is indeed a sad state of affairs.
What is even more alarming is that all the developments – residential as well as commercial – are being designed in abidance to the lowest Category-D earthquake protection level. Ideally, the buildings should be at least in the Category-B level, in order to save the lives of the occupants. The difference in the costs between a Category-D and a Category-B building can be valued at approximately Rs 350 per sq. ft.
A catastrophe waiting to happen
Is there a solution? Yes, there is an immediate safeguard which should be implemented; simply and inexpensively, buildings can be made 'Taylor Protected' by fixing dampers on existing and new buildings which will soak-up the earthquake energy, thereby, protecting the building and its inhabitants from damage and destruction due to sudden earthquakes, both for existing structures as well as for the new projects being built. Taylor Devices – a US-based company using NASA certified aerospace technology– can retrofit or install devices like Earthquake Proof Dampers at a very reasonable cost, which would go a long way in saving millions of lives.
Already more than 685 projects all over the world have employed Taylor Devices to save their occupants from earthquake damage alongside protecting their real estate investments. In India too, progressive and forward-looking companies like GMR-Airports and leading real estate developers are already engaged in installing Taylor Devices for their projects.
In fact, this type of earthquake protection should be made mandatory in India. Very soon, we shall see companies insisting on Taylor Protection before leasing out any property. You may well find REITs may only invest in real estate that has installed Taylor Protection devices and are certified by the "Taylor Protected" trademark.
It would be prudent and indeed socially responsible for organisations like CREDAI, NAREDCO, ASSOCHAM, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, FICCI, CII, ICC etc. to urge all their members to insist on adopting Taylor Protection.
Let us not wait for the disasters to occur – let us plan for the prevention of loss of life and destruction of assets. Or – once again – we will have to face the situation of doing "too little too late".
(The author is Founder of Brand Chakra. The views expressed are strictly personal)