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Engineer devises DIY quake repair guide for Gujarat householders

FEARS THAT inadequate structural surveys are being carried out following last month's Gujarat earthquake have driven a British-based engineer to draw up a do-it-yourself repair guide for householders.

Arup geotechnical engineer Dinesh Patel hopes to mass produce the guide, translated into Gujarati, and distribute it across the quake damaged region.

Engineers recruited through an appeal in NCE will help Patel devise the guide.

A simple way to strengthen walls cracked by horizontal shaking is to secure each side with chicken wire.

'There are a lot of simple things that people at the grassroots level can do to make these buildings safer, ' said Patel, who comes from Gujarat.

Patel wants to prioritise selfhelp because hardly any original structural drawings exist to enable full-scale damage surveys to be carried out on buildings.

He made his observations after visiting Gujarat with the Earthquake Engineering Field Investigation team last month.

'The most effective buildings were those with 300mm thick masonry stone walls which gave structures shear strength and protected columns. These have stood up better than brick infill walls used in many of the buildings that collapsed.'

EEFIT is expected to recommend that houses are rebuilt using the thicker masonry walls.

'Local stone is very cheap and readily available from quarries, ' said Patel.

India's national government has chosen a design code for temporary structures made of metal tubing and galvanised sheeting to rehouse those made homeless by the quake.

The code will have to be followed for all governmentfunded temporary housing. It is hoped these structures can be converted into permanent homes with concrete walls and slabs replacing the sheeting.

Up to 250,000 temporary homes, costing around £400 each, are expected to be complete in three months to be replaced by permanent structures in one year.

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