Dhaka highly vulnerable to earthquake

Build resilient infrastructure to avoid catastrophic consequences

Published : 17 Mar 2023 08:37 PM | Updated : 17 Mar 2023 08:37 PM

It is startling to note that nearly 865,000 buildings would collapse in Dhaka city if an earthquake of 6.9 magnitude strikes at Madhupur fault in Tangail, near Dhaka. A survey conducted by Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (RAJUK) envisages that nearly 210,000 people would die and another 229,000 would sustain injuries if the quake strikes at day time. Experts are of the opinion that an earthquake with a magnitude of 7, smaller than the one in Turkey, would not only have buildings collapse in Dhaka but also turn the city into a fire pit due to the unplanned electricity transmission and gas lines,” Dr Ansary added.

Because of rapid and poorly planned urbanisation, big cities in Bangladesh particularly capital Dhaka and port city Chattogram are becoming more and more vulnerable to both natural and man-made hazards. Factors such as poor living standards, construction of infrastructures without consideration of safety measures, lack of public awareness of hazards, and poorly enforced building code are worsening the situation further.

Proper implementation of land use 

plan and enforcement of building 

code are important to make Dhaka

 resilient to disasters like earthquake

Bangladesh is known for rural hazards especially flood, but these days urban hazards have become more frequent and harsher. Living in this overcrowded jungle of concrete, it is horrifying to imagine how would this town survive if an intense earthquake takes place?

Reinforcing urban governance has become very necessary on the part of the government and city planners. There are numerous facets of current urban planning and development that pose serious threats to the life and wealth of city dwellers. For example, the lack of enforcement of building code, planning permission and regulatory investment, often linked to corruption, allow the transfer of risk from construction companies to those who live and work in the buildings. 

Proper implementation of land use plan and enforcement of building code are important to make Dhaka resilient to disasters like earthquake. Also, multi-hazard approaches need to be implemented with a view to reducing risks that will make Dhaka safer in the long-run. Experts from related arena and different stakeholders who are properly trained should work together under one umbrella to ensure construction of resilient infrastructure. For making the cities safer and reducing urban disaster risks, there is no alternative to strengthening capacity of local government to ensure effective services in emergency situations.