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Wednesday, March 22, 2023
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Quake lessons

The worst tragedy that struck Quetta in the form of a massive earthquake has shaken the whole social fabric of the city. The government is overwhelmed by the devastation caused by one of the deadliest quakes. At least 20 people have so far been due to the 5.9 magnitude quake struck various districts of Balochistan. The earthquake has once again put a question mark on the government’s preparedness to deal with such disasters. In fact, the government did not take any disaster management steps even after the deadly earthquake of October 8, 2005. What is the purpose of establishing the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and Provincial Disaster Management Authorities (PDMAs) if they fail to properly perform their given tasks? Pakistan has not learnt any lesson from the past. There are still many discrepancies that have not been addressed yet. The implementation of a proper building code in the country is still a far cry. Although it is almost impossible to convert all existing built-up houses and buildings into earthquake-resistant structures, yet there are a number of steps that can be taken to decrease losses to the bare minimum. Especially in big cities, where the construction of high-rise buildings is on the rise, certain by-laws should strictly be enforced. Amid increasing urbanisation, it has become mandatory to have some basic building rules. Safety aspects must be taken care of before the construction of buildings and even small houses. Unfortunately, Pakistan is located in the most active quake zone, according to the US Geological Survey. A proper plan must be in place to deal with any such disaster. The concerned disaster management authorities need to take short, medium and long term measures. First, they need to get ready stocks of non-perishable equipment, goods and other necessary items needed in emergency situations. Second, they need to educate the masses about the importance of safety measures and how to react when a disaster occurs. The earthquake has come and gone but not its aftermath. A huge task has yet to be accomplished. Aftershocks are still occurring. There are a large number of injured and homeless people while the burial of dead bodies is also a serious issue. Besides the provision of immediate relief in the shape of food items and medical care for the victims, their rehabilitation is also a great challenge for the government functionaries. It is high time the government became proactive instead of reactive. Long term planning and its implementation are the only way to mitigate the effects of disasters.

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