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Scientists engineer response to terror

india Updated: Aug 24, 2006 01:32 IST
GP Varma
GP Varma

Design buildings to withstand blasts, terrorist attacks

AFTER THE success of earthquake resistant structures, some of the country’s leading brains have come together to design buildings that will suffer minimum damage in case of a terror attack.

Taking a lead in the fight against terror, scientists and civil engineers at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, (IIT-K) are preparing a comprehensive document that would detail the construction of earthquake and terrorist-hazard resistant buildings. The document is likely to be finalised next month.

Talking to Hindustan Times, a senior professor at the civil engineering department of the IIT-K, Dr Sudhir K Jain, said in the wake of frequent terrorist threats it had become necessary to construct buildings that could withstand blasts and suffer minimum loss. “In case of a blast, such buildings will also prevent major loss of human lives,” Dr Jain said.

He said relevant research was in progress at the IIT-K and several others institutions all over the country. The professor said after the attack on the Mumbai Stock Exchange, scientists thought of developing a new construction system to face the ever-growing challenge of terrorism. Scientists and engineers working in defence laboratories, industrial and educational institutions were engaged in the project, he added.

The terror-resistant building programme is expected to take a comprehensive shape when 90 experts from all over the country meets at the IIT-K on September 25 & 26 to discuss various aspects of constructing safer buildings.

Dr Jain said the inter-disciplinary national seminar on ‘Engineering response to hazards of terrorism’ was a joint endeavour of the National Information Centre of Earthquake Engineering (NICEE), IIT-K and the Indian National Academy of Engineering, Delhi.

Dr Jain said the seminar would deliberate upon three aspects — how to estimate the terrorist threat for taking adequate construction precautions, how the buildings could be made terror-hazard resistant and what kind of electronic and computer-based equipment would be required to forewarn against the possible terrorist activity.

Though many scientists engaged in developing highly confidential systems for the buildings would not attend the seminar, several others involved in developing the new art would address the seminar, he added.

Meanwhile, Dr CVR Murty, professor in the civil engineering department at the IIT-K,  said that in the wake of terrorist threat it has become the duty of the scientists to give a befitting reply to it with technological effects and protect human life and concrete constructions by exploiting the technical knowledge to the maximum.

Talking to Hindustan Times, he said that the task to develop terrorist hazard resistant structure for the buildings was easier, but how this new structural plan could be implemented was the most tedious job for the planners and the executors of the policy.

He said for the perfect implementation of the terrorist hazard resistant buildings the ‘cluster system’ of construction would have to be applied. Under this system, all the new buildings constructed at place must have the similar construction norms so that blast in any one of the buildings should not damage the other.

A single building with the new construction norms could only be protected while other buildings as per traditional methods of construction would be damaged.

Besides, the age-old buildings would require huge budget to turn them into terrorist hazard resistant buildings yet the rate of success in connection with these buildings would be not very encouraging. However, such buildings in a locality could be brought under a security check zone by raising the concrete fencing and introducing ‘neighbourhood watch strategy’ (NWS).

He said that unless each resident of the colony was alert over the movements of the strangers in or around the colony or locality, the colonies under NWS could not claim to be safe against the terrorist hazard, Professor Murty said.

Professor Murty further said that the scientists and engineers from different disciplines have accepted the terrorists’ challenge and they were hopeful of providing a new construction technology to the country and the world alike for keeping the buildings intact during blasts.