We are glad to tell you that members of our research team in Gujarat have just completed the project’s reconnaissance trip, which is key to decide on a specific site on which to focus. Dr Jigna Desai and Mrudula Mane from the Center for Heritage Conservation CRDC, and Aditya Singh from our Project Partner Hunnarshala Foundation, explored heritage villages in the district of Kutch, Gujarat.
They covered 12 villages in four days, located in the Northeast, South and West areas of the district: Bela, Vrajvani, Moti Reha, Nani Reha, Nani Tumbadi, Depa, Moti Khakkar, Bhojay, Kotdi Mahadevpuri, Roha, Tera, and Jadva. During their visit, our team interacted with village heads, senior citizens and locals who had witnessed the natural disasters of the last few decades (earthquakes, as well as cyclones, hurricanes, and torrential rains). They were actively involved in disaster mitigation, rehabilitation and reconstruction.
After 20 years of the disastrous earthquake that hit Gujarat (7.7Mw), memories are still strong. People do remember how traditional houses built with 1’6″ thick stone walls and timber framing did not collapse with the earthquake, whilst multi-storey reinforced concrete structures collapsed very quickly. Some old houses affected were repaired and still stand today thanks to regular maintenance, but forced migration and associated social changes related to the earthquake triggered the abandonment of many neighbourhoods.
The region has a very strong culture of social work and community participation, key factors for an effective recovery after disasters such as earthquakes. People considered that a collaborative initiative of 3D laser scanning of traditional constructions in the area can be a significant support for their post-disaster response and appreciate the opportunity of being involved in further stages in our research project.
Reported by Mrudula Mane.