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School, hospitals in Guwahati face structural vulnerability

A large number of school and hospital buildings in the city face major structural vulnerabilities and are prone to hazards like fire, flood and landslides, according to a study.

Guwahati: A large number of school and hospital buildings in the city face major structural vulnerabilities and are prone to hazards like fire, flood and landslides, according to a study.

The survey by the Assam Engineering College (AEC), Guwahati, covered 770 schools and 48 hospitals in the city.

The results of the study were discussed during the Fifth meeting of the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) chaired by Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi at his official residence here last evening, an official release said today.

"A report on the status of survey of schools and hospitals of Guwahati city by the AEC presented in the meeting showed that 34 per cent of schools in Guwahati had major structural vulnerability, 74 per cent had major non-structural vulnerability, 5 per cent are prone to urban flood and 8 per cent to landslides," the release said.

The survey report also showed that nearly 50 per cent of the hospitals in the city either do not have disaster management plans or have never conducted simulation drills.

"Further 23 per cent of city hospitals do not have structural drawings available for conducting a structural assessment of the same and 19 per cent of hospitals in the city are also prone to major fire hazards," the statement said.

With a view to minimise damages during the event of any calamity and deal effectively with such events, Gogoi underscored the need for all the departments in the state to have disaster management plans in place.

"The Chief Minister directed the Education Department to issue necessary instructions to the schools for rectifying the vulnerabilities. Gogoi further directed the Education Department to initiate steps for all the Government schools that are a part of the list of vulnerable schools," it said.

Gogoi also asked the Education Department and the Kamrup Metro district administration to ensure that the non- government institutions too have a proper disaster management plan in place and adopt safety measures.

The Chief Minister Gogoi also directed the that all schools should have a disaster management plan in place and conduct regular drills to test their plans.

"Officials of the Education Department appraised the Chief Minister about steps being initiated to incorporate a clause making preparation of school disaster management plans and mock drills mandatory for recognition under the Non- Governmental Educational Institution Act, 2006, and also in the Venture Schools and Provincialisation Act," the statement said.

Regarding hospitals, Gogoi instructed the Health Department to take corrective measures and take immediate steps for preparing the inventory list of the hospitals with regard to beds, doctors, staff, equipments as well as the inventory list of all the retired doctors whose services can be utilised at the time of emergency.

He emphasised on the need for setting up a full-fledged Training Centre on Emergency Health Management and Mass Casualty handling in The Guwahati Medical College and strengthening the capacity of the peripheral hospitals.

"The Chief Minister directed the PWD to prescribe the minimum width for the narrow roads in the state including prohibiting all construction activities beyond both sides of the road up to a specified distance for better disaster management and incorporate the same as part of the uniform building bye-laws," it said.

The Chief Minister further advised the Labour and Employment Department to get the basics on earthquake resistant technology and to introduce it as a non-credit course in the curriculum of ITIs.

The State Disaster Management Plan prepared by SDMA was also approved during the meeting.
SDMA also gave in-principle approval for setting up of Assam Institute of Seismological Research which would allow state planners to have access to the latest technology in the field of seismology and obtain vital information on the seismic risk faced by Assam.
The meeting also discussed issues relating to flood early warning system, activities of Guwahati emergency management exercise, seismic micro zoning, and GIS mapping of utilities and infrastructure for the state.