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Fibre wrap to protect old buildings from earthquakes

Aloysius Xavier Lopez
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Work on at Ripon Buildings and Kodambakkam bridge

coat of strength:The blue wrap is wound around columns of Ripon Buildings and lime mortar or cement packed on top of it —Photo: K. Pichumani
coat of strength:The blue wrap is wound around columns of Ripon Buildings and lime mortar or cement packed on top of it —Photo: K. Pichumani

Chennai Corporation will use fibre wrap technology to fortify its old civic structures, including buildings and bridges, against earthquakes.

The fortification techniques have been initiated in the wake of the city being upgraded to seismic zone III a few years ago. Work on Kodambakkam Bridge and Ripon Buildings has already started. Other major old buildings that are weak will be identified for fibre wrapping shortly.

“Over 1500 sq m of fibre wrap is being used for strengthening columns of the ground floor of Ripon Buildings. This will strengthen the columns that are likely to be damaged during seismic events,” said an official of Chennai Corporation.

“The fibre wrap being used now is blue in colour, and is capable of withstanding extremes of temperature. It is also cheaper than other available technologies. The fibre wrap is wound around the columns and the original material (lime mortar or cement) will then be packed on top of it.

Workers at Ripon Buildings are using safety goggles, chemical resistant gloves and particle masks during the restoration project, funded by Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. Other old buildings and bridges will be restored in a similar manner as part of disaster preparedness of the Chennai Corporation.

The civic body has also done fibre wrapping on the columns Kodambakkam bridge as part of restoration of the 50-year-old structure. The restoration would include spraying of anti-corrosion material and grouting. A few years ago, an expert study conducted on the 623-metre-long and 12.8-metre-wide structure concluded that it had weakened.

Every year, the Chennai Corporation prepares a list of weak structures as part of disaster preparedness and also draws plans to evacuate people near the structure in case of calamity. Some of the Corporation’s office, residential and commercial buildings too have been declared weak.

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