Bhutan to have seis­mic haz­ard map soon

Bhutan Times - - Home - Rinzin Lhamo

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.

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