It is only good fortune that a metropolis like Karachi has not witnessed an earthquake on the scale that a city of 20 million, that sits on the convergence of three tectonic plates, can. Meanwhile, Rawalpindi and Islamabad are in the list of 20 cities that are most vulnerable to earthquakes. And the regions of Kashmir, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan have during the last decade witnessed some of the worst natural disasters in recent memory, while the tragedy in Awaran is all too recent. Yet, Pakistan seems to be in a state of slumber with respect to its extreme vulnerability to earthquakes.
The Punjab government is the only government that has finally woken up to this issue and has begun working on a province-wide evaluation to judge the capacity of various buildings to withstand tremors. The provincial government has initiated a study to identify vulnerable buildings that would not be able to endure seismic disturbances as well as residents who cannot afford the repair of their buildings. Such people are expected to be offered subsidies or alternative housing. This is the first such study in any province and it cannot be emphasised enough how crucial it is to do such an evaluation on a country-wide basis.
Even following the deaths of 75,000 people during the 2005 earthquake, there is negligible implementation of building codes and barely any concern for better disaster-management facilities. Experts have long warned that if an earthquake and tsunami hits Karachi on the scale of the one that hit Japan in 2011, the city will be flattened. Much of the infrastructure in the country is of poor quality and in the most vulnerable areas like Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan, emergency services are often unable to reach victims in a timely manner. The Punjab government’s initiative, therefore, is most necessary and the rest of the country must follow suit. Depending on luck or miracles is not the ideal contingency plan.
Original news : http://tribune.com.pk/story/1157079/awakening-seismic-realities/