Research Monograph on Earthquake Preparedness and Awareness- The Realities of the Inhabitants of Old Dhaka


Earthquake is not new in our country but the frequency of this hazard in recent time is a matter of worry especially for Dhaka where multi-storied buildings are going up and up. Old part of Dhaka where buildings are unplanned and very congested is highly vulnerable to earthquake. We can’t predict nor can alert for this disaster, so we have to take preventive measure. Awareness building and increasing knowledge on earthquake and act accordingly is the key to ensure safety and security in earthquake. This study attempts to find out the awareness and preparedness level of inhabitants of old Dhaka. Conduct a study on this issue and data collection is not very easy task and there are very little study conducted so far.
Observation method is used for this study. Condition of buildings, safety measure taken, understanding and knowledge on earthquake are the key factors in this study. Peoples were asked about what and how to do at the time of earthquake. The study found the people of old Dhaka very cooperative and adoptive. They like beauty rather safety, their awareness, knowledge and understanding on earthquake is not enough. Buildings are almost neck to neck and uprising. Most of the buildings are without plan pass and suitable design. The roads and streets are very narrow for emergency rescue work. Safety measures are not taken properly; no fire extinguishers; no emergency exit and no preparation for possible attack of earthquake. The study found no volunteers service and community preparation in old Dhaka for earthquake. No publicity and awareness building programs or any rehearsal activity is being done for earthquake. The study is qualitative in nature. It has some limitations and requires further study to get more accurate result. 

Earthquake is not a common disaster in Bangladesh as compared to flood, cyclone, tornado, draught etc. that cause huge damages of life and property. Among all the frightening things in nature, none is as frightful as an earthquake. The whole world may literally collapses in a few short seconds. At least with cyclones, flood and fire there is some warning. But, with all our advances in science, we can not be able to predict an earthquake.

The recent earthquake in Daiichi region about 250 km north east of Tokyo, followed by tsunami and nuclear meltdown, has caused extensive damage in human lives and property. With nuclear radiation leaking from the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, all of Japan now seems to be under a radioactive cloud.

Dhaka has little cause for comfort. In the event of such a major quake, the biggest problem confronting the city population will be that rescue vehicles will get trapped in the maze of narrow lanes in most parts of the city. More alarming, the city's overburdened sewer system might rupture, unleashing deadly germs in the days after the quake. In the older parts of the city, old buildings will collapse onto teeming streets, setting off panic, chaos, devastation and homelessness. Since long Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet have been obsessed by the threat of a big earthquake. Located in a major fault zone, experts know another quake will come one day. Worse, Dhaka city and Sylhet are located in a flood plain, and have been built up over the last 100 years over land reclaimed from swamps. Greater Chittagong is dangerously vulnerable to tremors.