An Elegy to Disaster

It's been days, hopes, groans and cries are either being listened to, or buried deep down in the debris. Was it a fury of God or an environmental change? Was it linked somewhere with our own deeds or an outcome of movement between tectonic plates? The desperate effort of these plates to meet one another caused an unfathomable rift among the inhabitants on the surface of this earth. Those who survived are still in a state of trauma; unable to realize the misery they have gone through, or going to face ahead.

Apart from all the scientific logic, and theological reason we must not neglect one major factor responsible for the casualties and sheer injuries, quake itself is less harmful as compared to other natural disasters such as flood, lightening, hurricanes and hunger, as it does not hit a person physically where the latter definitely do, these are multi-storied buildings and weighty material that cause major havoc. Most of the animals survived during lethal jolts only those, which were, kept as livestock, died under debris along with the residents. Plants trees and whole vegetation life managed its balance and got erected again after earthquake, but the most superior and privileged homo sapiens, who have cut their ties from the soil, buried alive under the massive debris, the same material they had collected and accumulated for protection and comfort through desperate efforts and hard earned money, in order to build the abode of their dreams.

What about earth; if it sometimes refuses to give support rather reacts vehemently by throwing away all the loads, we have put on it's crest in the guise of sky scrapers.After major earthquake in Quetta in 1935, that caused colossal destruction on a large scale, ban was imposed on multi-storied buildings; but with the passage of time folks put aside all the precautions, filled the city with lofty concrete structures, recently they expressed their profound apprehensions over the catastrophe as this city is also situated in the most sensitive zone. Every day newspapers are full of stories of one or the other area including Karachi, Islamabad and Hafizabad being the likely target of the looming disaster. Japan had to face earth's wrath several times thus got through destruction, as one of their official said " Now we are used to it", because they developed technology in architecture in order to avoid loss of lives and property.

Although we have flourished in almost each field including telecom industry, electronic goods etc, with every step in research gadgets are shedding extra weight, becoming more light, subtle and portable. Like our communication cell phones, delicate flat screens and laptops replaced system weighty phone, TV, and computer sets respectively. Ugly looking thick wires turned into fiber optics. On the contrary, our dwelling place is still surrounded by single unit brick walls, columns, ceiling mostly made of hard slabs and iron bars, in addition other accessories we have installed every nook and corner. No body ponders over that in case of mishap if all the stuff get collapsed what will happen to human bodies not made of iron and concrete rather of flesh and blood.

No refined quake proof building material is introduced yet, although fiber technology is best suited for the purpose but not been used. Buildings constructed without the approval of construction plans and failing to meet the required standard could result in serious damage in mountainous areas in case of natural calamities. Unfortunately we have left behind our traditional Mughal architecture, who used to build doom shaped ceilings, arches columns not only for the embellishment but also for strengthening the structure. Walls of their castles and other monuments are thick vaults of greater width filled with solid materials, despite having gone through countless quakes, disasters and wars we still find them in recognizable facade and shape, in comparison to modern buildings that take only five seconds to collapse.

In northern areas, traditional architecture was in accordance with their culture, folklore and nature as well. They used to build hut like homes usually of wood and clay, were in perfect harmony with pyramid design like mountains, sufficient enough to protect natives from snow falling, winter and quakes as well. But with the progressive and modern surge, these natives in following suit, forgot their own ecology and civilization, particularly in cities like Muzzafarabad and Mirpur, imitated British and New Zealand's designs by putting alienated model houses in lush green valleys. It is similar to, if one builds glass home in desert or mud house in rainy areas.

Substandard material plays a pivotal role in any destruction. Keeping in view the example of Margalla Tower, major structural faults were reported months before by residents but authorities and concerned people didn't pay any heed. All these factors put ahead an interrogatory mark on much hyped saga of housing colonies, towers and heights.

We usually prefer to live in houses designed by an entirely unconcerned construction companies who don't take any responsibility after allotment of apartments, play with the precious lives for the sake of their own vested interests. During this catastrophe a feeble bird might have secured its tender nest amidst delicate branches of tree, for it hitherto hasn't quit its relation with nature. We, instead the most privileged class of living beings, aware of all the facts, reason and consequences do not bother about anything, rather in an ostrich like manner keep on chasing our desires, craving for all the luxuries and lavish lifestyle, in complete oblivion construct our own massive tombs with our own hands.During reconstruction, only approved plans must be executed, keeping in view the up coming challenges, as natural disasters are increasing rapidly due to escalating temperature of earth. Since we have no other spare planet to make shift, this is the sole piece of land in the whole universe that gives cozy shelter during lifetime and doesn't leave us in lurch even after the eternal slumber.


By: Emma Alam

Oil and Gas Industry

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