Quake safety measures: Jica for new town outside Muzzafarabad
20 February 2007
Islamabad: The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has proposed to develop a new satellite town outside Muzzafarabad in order to keep the population safe from future earthquakes. JICA has prepared a study and master plan specifically for the capital city of Azad Kashmir, which, if properly implemented, is earthquake-resistant and according to the requirements of the people. The plan - Urgent development study on rehabilitation and reconstruction in Muzzafarabad city - aims at providing policy guidelines in rehabilitation and reconstruction of Muzzafarabad, which was destroyed by the earthquake in 2005. Provision of the JICA master plan is essential in effective implementation - and its target year is 2016. “Muzzafarabad city will recover from the damages of the earthquake disaster and be reconstructed as modern capital city of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK). The city be reconstructed with strong urban structure against recurrent natural disaster and it will function as a gateway city, and a regional development centre in Kashmir,” says the study. According to the study, about 70 landslide areas were identified by field surveys. Loosened rocks and soils will be potential to cause the debris flow. Based on the current land use as well as the results of the hazard assessment, the proposed area has been designated as suitable and secure for future urban development. Using this suitable land for recovery and rehabilitation is essential, however, it can not accommodate the expected population growth, it added. The urban planning framework is guided by a set of basic policies for creating safe and strong urban structures against natural disasters. These include five policies develop a multi- core urban structure, restrict new construction in potential hazardous areas, implement special measures in reconstruction on the potential faults, establish a network of parks and open spaces and reduce flood risk. Fears have been raised in the plan that there are no building codes and regulations in AJK, and implementation of the JICA team master plan might be hit by snags. The study emphasises on necessarily enacting regulations of local government with the compulsion power in the AJK government. Construction of check dams or other temporary structures have been recommended in order to stop flow of debris and mudflow. JICA’s proposed development scheme is in three phases rehabilitation period, initial reconstruction period and full- scale reconstruction period. The master plan study on rehabilitation and reconstruction provides a guideline and policy frame work for recovery of the city and social life from the earthquake disaster. It proposes future land use plan as a policy framework. The study also stresses on micro town planning which is an implementation plan to realize the concepts proposed in the master plan.