Bhutan to have seismic hazard map soon
Bhutan needs to build seismic resilient buildings to reduce the vulnerability of seismic hazard.
This is what came out of a two-day international workshop on understanding seismic hazards and ongoing risk reduction initiatives in Bhutan that took place on 22 and 23 November.
Organised by the Department of Geology and Mines (DGM) and World Bank, the workshop brought together more than 30 experts and engineers from within and outside the country to foster a sense of shared responsibility towards building seismic resilient communities.
Works and Human Settlement Minister Dorji Choden said people should limit the height of buildings to reduce seismic risk. There is much to learn in terms of design, choice of materials, cost effectiveness and many simple practices that ensure earthquake resilience, she added.
The Department of Engineering Service (DES) has followed a seismic code in the infrastructure building design since 1997.
However, engineers hardly incorporate the knowledge on proper seismotectonics of the region and site characteristic while designing them.
The director general of GM said the Nepal earthquake of 25 April, 2015, was a wakeup call for Bhutan so that we will take the earthquake risks seriously.
The 6.1 magnitude earthquake of 21 September, 2009, in eastern Bhutan resulted in an estimated loss of over Nu. 2.5 billion. The devastating earthquake led to the formation of Earthquake and Geophysic Division under DGM.
The division functions as a seismic repository that delivers first- hand technical information.
Recognizing Bhutan’s vulnerability to earthquake, the government has initiated various institutional mechanisms to strengthen disaster risk management.
The first step was the establishment of department of Disaster Management in 2008.
DES under the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement plays the lead role of addressing the engineering aspects related to disaster risk reduction affecting the technical agencies to assess in other disaster management in the country.
The department is in the process of framing seismic standards and guidelines in construction domain. It also focuses on preparing manuals, guidelines and training for carpenters and engineers.
The first seismic hazard map has been developed. It underlines the importance of strengthening seismic building code and infrastructure development planning.
The map will be used soon in Bhutan.
With financial support from World Bank and Regional Integrated Multi-hazard Early Warning System (RIMES), DGM is also working on the installation of a national seismic monitoring system which will enhance the country’s capacity to monitor and assess seismic hazards in the country.
The first seismic monitoring system was established in Thimphu in December 2015.
RIMES aims to establish eight seismic stations in Bhutan, said Mr. Elouie R. Lepiten.
Dr.Shiro Ohmi said so far RIMES had established four seismic stations, one each in Thimphu, Bumthang, Gelephu and Trashigang.
A total of 14 seismic monitoring systems will be operated early next year across the country.
Lyonpo Dorji Choden graced the opening ceremony of the workshop.