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IIT Profs list norms for safer buildings

TWO SENIOR professors of the Civil Engineering Department at the IIT-K have prepared a comprehensive document on ?Measures to mitigate effects of terrorist attacks on buildings?. Gujarat State Disaster Mitigation Authority (GSDMA) hsad asked the IIT-K to prepare the document.

india Updated: Oct 01, 2006 00:39 IST

TWO SENIOR professors of the Civil Engineering Department at the IIT-K have prepared a comprehensive document on “Measures to mitigate effects of terrorist attacks on buildings”. Gujarat State Disaster Mitigation Authority (GSDMA) hsad asked the IIT-K to prepare the document.

The whole document has been divided into five chapters dealing in detail about the various aspects of the terrorist attacks and providing guidelines for constructing safer buildings which could resist terrorist hazards to a great extent.

According to the authors of the document, Dr Sudhir K Jain and Prof CVR Murty, they have prepared the document while working on a project at the institute using World Bank finances and the GSDMA funds in accordance with the generally recognised engineering principles and practices.

In the preface of the document, the authors have observed, “In recent years there has been considerable concern about terrorism. It seems that the society must learn to cope with hazards of terrorism as it does with the natural disaster.

At present, not much is available to an architect or an engineer in terms of guidance on how some features of planning, design and construction can have far reaching implications on the safety of the building and its occupants in the event of an attack by a terrorist.”

It is for this reason that the guidelines on mitigating the effects of terrorist attack on buildings have been developed. The document has reviewed various terrorist hazards and strategies to reduce the risk terrorists and highlighted various techno-legal and techno-financial regulations. Since bomb blasts cause damage to the building and its occupants the document has presented a review of possible damages to buildings due to blasts.

The document as per its central theme has laid down a new design philosophy for constructing safer buildings in future. The document has considerably drawn from various reports of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and American Society of Civil Engineers.

In the first chapter of the document the authors have classified terrorist attacks in four categories which include attack through explosion, arson-attack, armed attack, biological, chemical, nuclear and radiological attack, and various other forms of attack which included cyber terrorism, agro-terrorism, unauthorised entry and unauthorised surveillance terrorism.

The chapter suggests that protective designs should be introduced considering the type of occupancy and the density of the population in the building. The industrial buildings have a number of features that make it more vulnerable to terrorist attack as the raw material and efflux of finished products offer ample scope for access to the building.

The document suggests that the mitigation of the terrorist attack could be possible on four fronts namely intelligence, deception, physical and operational protection and structural hardening. 
It also suggests that the ideal option to fend off potential terrorist threat is to introduce intelligence measures to understand, prevent and pre-empt moves of the terrorists. Secondly, deceptive tactics could be adopted to misdirect terrorists.