Earthquake Vulnerability of Gujarat Schools
This study found significant earthquake vulnerability in Gujarat public school buildings and recommended steps to reduce and mitigate the risk.
Figure 1. Location, year and number of fatalities for earthquakes in India in the last 200 years (Bilham and Gaur 2000)
Gujarat State is a highly earthquake-prone region of western India. Past earthquakes have devastated almost every part of the state. Thirty-three significant earthquakes have struck the region since the first century A.D. After the January 26, 2001 Gujarat Earthquake, GHI became concerned about the earthquake safety of school buildings in the largest Gujarat cities: Ahmedabad, Baroda and Surat. The schools at issue included different building construction types, served students from different educational and economic levels, and were widely dispersed within each city.
GHI secured funding from Volunteers for India Development and Empowerment (VIDE) and The NGO Network Committee for Disaster Relief (NGOs Kobe [now Citizen’s Overseas Disaster Emergency or CODE]) to direct a study identifying earthquake-unsafe school buildings in Ahmedabad, Baroda and Surat. GHI worked with its Indian partner organization, the Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development Society (SEEDS), to evaluate 153 school buildings: 42 in Ahmedabad, 58 in Baroda, and 53 in Surat.
Schools in Ahmedabad, Baroda and Surat (from the left)
GHI found that the earthquake risk of the schools in all three cities was and is significant, and recommended that the authorities responsible for these schools take steps to reduce the risk.
GHI further recommended that these authorities initiate comprehensive school earthquake risk mitigation programs. GHI and SEEDS met with officials in these three cities to discuss these findings and follow-up actions.
GHI believes that the earthquake risk in other cities in Gujarat would be similar to that in Ahmedabad, Baroda and Surat, and therefore recommended that those responsible for the school seismic safety of other cities in Gujarat carry out similar measures.
GHI recommended that earthquake risk mitigation programs in Gujarat adopt a combination of the following strategies:
Reduce the structural vulnerability of school buildings
Reduce the number of students attending Very High or High earthquake risk buildings
Make sure that new schools use safe building construction practices (use current building codes, engage trained masons, inspect construction process)
This study used a rapid, inexpensive and reliable characterization of the relative earthquake vulnerability and exposure among school buildings in India that could be used to conduct a broader study in the most earthquake-prone regions of India.