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Appeal for Help

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  • To: jimeliz(--nospam--at)ix.netcom.com
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  • From: rajrupal/mime////////RFC-822/rajrupal#a#hotmail#f#com@hqmail2

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3rd Feb.98

Dear Mr.Jim Gingrich,

Mr.Raj Desai & Rupal Desai, who is working at Latur on Disaster Mitigation Program has asked me to send you an-mail message with an appeal for help. 

We hope that you will be able to come up with some idea, suggestions, etc. to help us to solve our problem. 

Do get back to us at the earliest.

Thanking you

Sincerely

Vinodini Bhatt

For (Rajendra Desai)





















AHMEDABAD STUDY ACTION GROUP
A Non-profit Group of Housing Professionals
Dalal Building, Relief Road, Behind Capri Hotel, Ahmedabad, GUJ 380001
Tel:91-79-55- 7841, FAX:91-79-550 7842, E-mail:asag(--nospam--at)ad1.vsnl.net.in

January 24, 1998.

Dear	Friend:

This is an appeal for an unusual help on behalf of Ahmedabad Study Action Group (A.S.A.G.) a non-profit social housing group of housing professionals based in Ahmedabad city in Western India. But before I go into the details of what type of help I need I must give you the background of the situation we are facing.

I presume that you already know that the Latur Earthquake of September 30, 1993 killed over 9000 inhabitants of the surrounding villages and severely damaged or destroyed nearly 30,000 houses and damaged more than 100,000 houses. Besides this tangible damage the community suffered an unprecedented shock since this was the first earthquake in several hundred years in this area, otherwise considered seismically dormant. This resulted into the community losing confidence in their age-old construction practices. For a rural community this is a major loss since even today a majority of villagers rely on the local resources, namely the materials and skills for building houses. You may be aware that this is a commonly prevalent situation in the rural areas around the world, especially in the developing nations. Communities are truly self-sufficient in taking care of their housing needs.

It is noteworthy that the houses that the people have been building using local stone, mud and timber are what one considers "environmentally friendly". It would be difficult to find an environmentally less disruptive way of building houses which require such low energy input in the production and transportation of materials, and in which the materials are nearly 100% recycled from generation to generation. An equally important feature of these houses is their thermal performance. As a result fan is a rare sight and so is a blanket in these houses.
 
But the people of the quake-hit villages have lost confidence in their vernacular construction methods. There is pitifully little that has been done to rebuild their confidence through educating them about how they can continue to use their vernacular methods by introducing earthquake resistant features in them. Hence, the people of this hot semi-arid region have begun to turn to inappropriate alien materials like corrugated galvanized iron sheeting since they are lightweight and, hence, seismically safe. But this is resulting in to severe degradation in their living conditions. They are also stretching their severely constrained resources to use expensive materials like cement and steel with an aim of building "earthquake proof" houses. In this region of acute water shortage indiscriminate use of cement could result in to seismically unsafe structures. This would result into a false sense of security. With peoples' income increasing at far slower rate than that of the cost !
 of!
 these energy intensive material
s the use of these materials will cause much financial hardship. And in the absence of knowledge of how cement based technology works, ever increasing number of people would continue to live in unsafe houses with false sense of security. In other words, if in future another earthquake of a similar intensity strikes anywhere in the area a disaster of similar proportions would occur. It must also be noted that there are nearly two million houses in the State, which are vulnerable to a moderate earthquake
 
It is, hence, imperative to demonstrate to the villagers that it is possible to build houses with significantly higher earthquake resistance out of predominantly local materials with very little alien materials. In the June of 1995, Prof. A.S. Arya of Roorkee University, in India carried out an unusual demonstration in the field in the quake-affected area. It consisted of two houses built on a movable platform. Both were identical and built out of a traditional method using stone and mud for walls, and mud and timber for the roof. Subsequent to constructing them, one of them was retrofitted to improve its seismic performance. The houses were subjected to a series of progressively stronger shocks with the help of a tractor until one of the houses collapsed. The shocks were measured with the help of accelerometers and a recorder. The tenth and the last shock was twelve times stronger than the Latur tremor of September 30, 1993. While the non-retrofitted house was severely dama!
 ge!
d in the test the retrofitted ho
use stood up with a few minor cracks.

This could have been an invaluable demonstration for restoring the confidence of the people in local construction practice and materials. Unfortunately this unique demonstration has reached pitifully few people. The need of the hour is to perform many more such demonstrations covering other popular construction systems in this area and to take the results to the people by means of short video films. 
 
We have been in this quake-affected area for the past four years. Here our primary focus has been the capacity building of the local people in quake resistant building technology that people can afford and replicate using predominantly local materials and local skills. This has been through actually building several demonstration houses, and also repairing and seismically retrofitting nearly 150 non-engineered houses in some 25 villages. Along with this we organized several training programs for the local building artisans and also the awareness programs for the people with the help of the communication tools developed by us.

In the next two years we will be taking up a program to evolve a network of village level volunteers who would be trained in the matter of seismic safety. The idea is to leave behind a group of committed individuals who could keep the idea of seismic hazard mitigation alive. Thus far we have been the only ones here talking about pre-disaster mitigation.  It is time we prepared others. This is going to be a difficult task.

Since unlike hurricanes the recurrence cycle of earthquakes could be a couple of decades to as much as several decades it is difficult to demonstrate the effectiveness of retrofitting and technological improvements. Going by the proverb "seeing is believing" we have decided to organize a series of field shake table tests similar to that done by Prof. Arya. We have concluded that this is the most powerful tool of communication and it is indispensable. AND THIS IS WHERE WE NEED YOUR HELP.

Organizing of tests is simple and so is conducting them. But it is of paramount importance to measure the shocks so that people are able to relate them to the Latur earthquake. Since confidence building is the fundamental objective of our program if we can not measure the shocks the tests are of no use.

But the problem is of getting the equipment. We have been told that the equipment available in India is not reliable, and may simply not work at the time of test. There are four or five institutions in India that have them. But some will not lend. The others charge exorbitantly which is simply beyond the reach of a non-profit organization like ours. Can any one out there help us? We will return the equipment after the completion of the program. IF THERE IS ANY ONE INTERESTED IN THE RESEARCH, HERE IS A UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY. WE COULD CONDUCT THE TESTS JOINTLY AND SHARE ALL OUR RESULTS WITH ANY INTERESTED RESEARCHER WILLING TO HELP US.

Time is of essence since ours is a two-year program. If we finish our tests by November then we will have twelve months in our hands to use the results for confidence building. We have just started the construction of the platform. We will be ready for the test of the first set of structures by April 10. 

I await your reply keenly. Since I am at Latur I do not have a direct access to e-mail. But in Ahmedabad at our office we do. My colleagues forward the mail through a courier. So it works fine, although a little slower.

Sincerely,
Rajendra Desai
Trustee

Shake Test Program

The program is aimed at demonstrating the effectiveness of earthquake resistant features in improving the seismic performance of the traditionally built non-engineered structures commonly found in Marathwada region of Maharashtra State of Western India.
i) For each test two structures will be built on a movable platform to show the comparative performance of a traditionally built structure against an improved one. 
ii) Each test will consist of subjecting the structures to a series of successively stronger shocks with the help of a tractor similar to the shake tests performed by Prof. Arya at Umerga (75Km. South of Latur) in June 1995.
iii) The acceleration of shocks will be recorded with the help of accelerometer (one in each structure) and a recorder to enable the people to relate them with the Latur earthquake.
iv) Each test will be documented on video. A ten-minute video capsule will be made out of these videos to be used for building confidence in the local communities in quake resistant construction from the local materials. This could also be aired on the regional TV network.

Test Structure Information:
1. All structures are to be half scale.
2. All structures to have inside plan dimension to be 1.8mx1.2m.
3. All structures to have Load-bearing walls.
4. All structure from No.3 through No.8 to have CGI sheet roof.
5. A door opening provided in center of a long wall to be 45cm.x90cm. high.
6. Construction materials and technology are as follows.

Test I-
Structure 1 - Traditional construction
Walls:	30cm. thick and 115cm. high UCR in Mud Mortar.
Roof:	"Malwad" roof resting directly on wall with 30cm. mud layer.
Structure 2- Retrofitted Traditional construction
Walls:	30cm. thick and 115cm. high (floor to ceiling) UCR in Mud Mortar retrofitted with 3.75cm thick RCC band under roof level, and RC Bond Elements, one every 0.25sq.m. of wall surface.
Roof:	Retrofitted "Malwad" type (Mud & timber) without posts with all half-scale timber elements. Timber joists resting on and tied down to the band with 3mm g.i. wire at 30cm. spacing. Mud layer 10cm. thick.


Test II- 
Structure 3 - Traditional construction
Walls:	      Burnt Brick in Mud Mortar 11.5cm. thick and 115cm. high.
Roof:	C.G.I. Sheeting supported on walls and purlins, and held in place with stones placed on top.

Structure 4 - Improved construction
Walls:	UCR in Mud Mortar 22cm. thick and 115cm. high with 3.75cm thick RCC band at roof level with lintle connected to roof band and RC corner strengthening at mid-height. Through stones to be one every 0.25sq.m. of wall surface.
Roof:	C.G.I. Sheeting anchored to wall plates of 3.75cm.x3.75cm. timber and purlins with "J" hooks. Wall plates to be tied to roof band with 2mm binding wires. Diagonal ties of 2-2mm binding wires to be installed just under CGI sheeting.

Test III
Structure5- Traditional Construction
Walls: 	     Burnt Brick in Mud Mortar 11.5cm. thick and 115cm. high
Roof: 	C.G.I. Sheeting supported on walls and purlins, and held in place with stones placed on top.
Structure 6- Improved construction
Walls:	Burnt Brick in Mud Mortar 11.5cm. thick and 115cm. high with 3.75cm thick RC band at roof level with lintle connected to it and RC corner strengthening at mid-height.
Roof:	C.G.I. Sheeting anchored to wall plates of 3.75cm.x3.75cm. timber and purlins with "J" hooks. Wall plates to be tied to roof band with 2mm binding wires. Diagonal ties of 2-2mm binding wires to be installed just under CGI sheeting.

Test IV
Structure 7- Traditional construction
Walls:	 Adobe wall 15cm. thick and 115cm. high
Roof:	C.G.I. Sheeting supported on walls and purlins, and held in place with stones placed on top.
Structure 8- Improved construction
Walls:	Adobe wall 15cm. thick and 115cm. high with a ladder type timber band made with two 3.5cm.x3.5cm. or 5.0cm.x2.5cm longitudinal timber pieces and 2.5cmx1.25cm. cross ties at 15cm. spacing installed at roof level with door lintel connected to it. The roof band is to be anchored to wall with 2mm binding wire ties at 30cm. spacing. Diagonal brace made of 7.5cmx3.5cm timber to be installed at mid-height in all corners.
Roof:	C.G.I. Sheeting anchored to wall plates of 3.75cm.x3.75cm. timber and purlins with "J" hooks. Wall plates to be tied to roof band with 2mm binding wires. Diagonal ties of 2-2mm binding wires to be installed just under CGI sheeting.


Note: 	It is likely that there are a few discrepancies in the specifications listed above. Once the drawings are made all discrepancies will be taken care of.

Tentative schedule

Test set up construction begins 			January 23
Set up construction ends 				March 1
Begin the construction of Test Structures 1 & 2	March 5
Finish the construction of Test Structures 1 &2 	April 5
Shake Test No.1						April 10
Begin construction of Test Structures 3 & 4		April 15
Finish construction of Test Structures 3 & 4		May 15
Shake Test No.2						May 20
Begin construction of Test Structures 5 & 6		May 25
Finish construction of Test Structures 5 & 6		June 25
Shake Test No.3						June 30
Begin construction of Test Structure 7 & 8		October 1
Finish construction of Test Structure 7 & 8		October 30
Shake Test No. 4						November 5

           From June to October because of the monsoon no test structures will be built and tested.
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Field Shake Table Test In Quake Affected Maharashtra, India.

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