Bhuj Earthquake in India - A study by Consulting Engineers Association of India


Bhuj Earthquake in India – A study by CEAI


On the morning of India’s Republic Day, January 26, 2001, an earthquake devastated the town of Bhuj, and its effects were felt throughout northwestern India and some parts of Pakistan. This earthquake, measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale, killed 20,000 people and injured over 150,000 more. It was the most powerful earthquake recorded in India since August 15, 1950, with a Richter scale magnitude of 8.5.


The earthquake wreaked havoc in a number of cities, including Ahmedabad, Rajkot, and Jamnagar. The majority of the injured people became disabled for the rest of their lives. The earthquake claimed the lives of 7,065 children among those who died (0-14 years old). Aside from casualties, the earthquake had a significant impact on human life, GDP, social situation, and businesses. The disaster caused a massive loss, amounting to Rs. 144 billion in monetary terms. Another Rs. 106 billion was spent on reconstruction. These have had a multiplicity of effects on human life. There was a lack of medical assistance, as well as an inadequate food.


Disaster losses:


The impact of this earthquake has resulted in losses of various elements and sectors, including revenue downfall, loss estimates, and inventory loss.

Because Bhuj is not likely to be considered an earthquake-prone region, the buildings were not built to withstand such natural disasters. As a result of this incident, there was no inventory of buildings left, which resulted in higher reconstruction costs than anticipated.


Social impact:

There were negative social consequences in addition to the fiscal and construction inventory losses. Eighty percent of water and food sources were destroyed, resulting in looting and violence that had a significant impact on people. The earthquake destroyed the homes of 2 million people, leaving them homeless at the end of the incident, which disrupted the social balance.


Demographic impact:


On average, there were around 7065 deaths of children aged 0-14 years, and 9110 deaths of women. There were 348 orphans and 826 widows among the children and women who died. This had an effect on demographics as well as the labor market. There was an imbalance in the worker ratio due to an increase in the number of fatalities among women.

The Bhuj Earthquake had a significant impact in many ways, and it has taken a tremendous amount of effort to return things to normal. Human lives, labor, businesses, social structures, education, and even the basic food supply were all affected. During this time, the government, health care, rescue operation task force, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) made significant efforts by providing assistance, relief funds, and support.

Steps taken to prevent incident like Bhuj Earthquake - A study by Consulting Engineers Association of India


Steps taken to prevent such an incident:


The Bhuj earthquake had caused an unbearable damage in the region of Gujarat. After this, it became inevitable to cover up the losses as well as build safety measures for any such unforeseen circumstance. Along with several initiatives the government took, certain norms were put in place.

The new city which was built in a way where it could face such a challenge without causing a great amount of destruction yet again.


New base Isolation Technology:

The Rs. I00 crore general hospital in Bhuj was rebuilt using base-isolation technology. The lead-rubber bearings (act as shock absorbers) were used to isolate and protect structures during earthquakes.


No multistory buildings:

This technology was hence difficult to be used for all the residential and commercial buildings’ construction. To prevent such an incident from happening, new building was constructed with not more than a single storied building. Not a single building has a permit to go above 7.5m in height. Even if it is a commercial building or a residential one. This led to the city being spread out more horizontally across the region.


Wider road network:

A new network of roads was built which is at least 9m wide and 7-7.5m wide for internal roads which earlier was hardly 2.5-3m wide – which made the rescue and relief a nightmare during the incident.


Way forward after incident of Bhuj Earthquake in India - A study by Consulting Engineers Association of India


The National Building Code of India (NBC) was subsequently revised 2005, by lesson leant by this destruction of Bhuj Earthquake. Also, the revision was necessary to address due to large scale changes in the building construction activities.


Further even with the prevalence of high rises and mixed occupancies, greater reliance and complexity of building services, development of new/innovative construction materials and technologies, increased need for environmental preservation, and recognition of the need for planned management of existing buildings and built environment, there has been a paradigm shift in the building construction scenario. Taking these factors into account and to reduce earthquakes impact on buildings, a Project for Comprehensive Revision of the National Building Code (NBC) was launched under the auspices of the National Building Code Sectional Committee, and as a result of this Project, the revised NBC was released as the National Building Code of India 2016 (NBC). The Code was revised once more as NBC 2016 and was formally released on March 15, 2017.


Are you a consulting engineer? Then, you might want to visit the CEAI official website for more such insightful information.

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