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The town of Bhuj looks freshly minted. New housing colonies, commercial buildings,
good roads betray no evidence of a tragedy that struck this Gujarat town in 2001. 25,000
new houses have come up here in the last few years to replace those that crumbled like a
pack of cards when the monster earthquake struck Bhuj and its neighboring areas, when it
was celebrating Republic Day on January 26, 2001. Since then the recovery has been
methodical, furious and targeted. How did this miraculous recovery come about?
Answers to this question are available everywhere.

VO 2
Hodka is 80 kilometers from Bhuj. About 1500-1600 Hindus and Muslims live in this
village peacefully. Till six years ago, the village did not look this. All the houses were
flattened by the earthquake that struck Gujarat and took people unaware.

January 26, 2001
Time 8.46 am
Earthquake of a magnitude of 6.9 on the Richter scale struck Gujarat
Impacted 10 cities and 914 villages
Died 19,805 people
Injured 166,000 people
Destroyed 348,000 houses
Damaged 844, 000 houses
Rendered homeless 600, 000 people
Flattened 5,000 schools
Killed 20,000 cattle
Total loss US$ 5 billion

The world was shocked by death, damage and destruction. There was outpouring of
sympathy and relief from all over the world. Tons of relief material began to descend in
these parts. There was a flood of NGOs and individuals who wanted to help. Chaos

Byte: Bhavsi, coordinator- Anjar block

Initially the earthquake hit villages were ravaged by loot and dacoity. Most of the relief
material was cornered by a handful. To prevent this and to ensure that the relief material
reaches the actual beneficiaries, sub-centers were set up all over the state. We ensured
that the information about the village reached the government. Also, we disseminated
information about government’s plans to the village. We also provided information to
outside NGO’s that wanted to do relief work.
The Relief phase soon came to an end and rehabilitation had to start. The State Gujarat
Disaster Management Authority (GSDMA) was set up to coordinate reconstruction.
GSDMA was primarily responsible for establishing the relevant framework and
guidelines. For the most part, the actual implementation of the reconstruction measures
was to be carried out by non-governmental institutions (NGOs) which were also required
to make their own financial contribution. Each family whose house had been destroyed
by the earthquake was to receive a grant contribution from the GSDMA, the amount
depending on the size of living space destroyed.

Byte: Gitesh Gandhi

The Gujarat government at some stage decided that the development of the rural areas
and the urban areas would be done differently. The NGO presence and partnership in the
rural areas was very strong whereas this was lacking in the urban areas. So the
government set up a category system. The houses with minor cracks that were repairable
were to be put in category G1, those that had suffered upto 10% but less than 15%
damage were classified as G2. The houses that were 30-40% damaged were in category
G3 and between 40-50% were categorized as G4.Those houses that were completely
destroyed and had to be rebuilt fell in the G5 category.

Byte: Bhavsi
The NGO’s worked closely with the government and conducted surveys to assess the
damage the earthquake had caused to life and property. These surveys helped in
providing targeted rehabilitation.

Byte: Karshanbhai Rabari

Initially we were not aware that the government would help us rebuild our houses, so we
did not do anything. We started living in temporary huts. Soon a team of NGO’s visited
us and asked us to participate in the survey that was being carried out to assess the
damage. We were informed that if our house fell in G 5 category then we would get Rs
90,000, if G4 then Rs 75,000, if G3 then Rs 35,000 and if G1 or G2 category then we
would get the repair reimbursement. So we got our houses surveyed. Pictures of the
damage were taken. A high profile team including housing inspectors came to assess the
extent of damage.

The village panchayats and the NGOs worked very closely to ensure that no one was left
out. But collecting information was a gigantic task.

Byte: Bhavsi, coordinator- Anjar block

People were not able to comprehend the policy of the government. Our job was to
simplify it and inform the people…. But there were many issues, Some people had one
house, but would say that they had two or three . Those who were needy and poor would
get left out. During the survey each person would give a different story. There would be
only 200 houses before the earthquake in a village, but the survey would show 250 or
even 300.
Many villages relied entirely on the NGOs. They worked in close coordination with them
and are happy about the construction work.

Byte: Karshanbhai Rabari

The NGOs initially told us not to build on the same location and advised us to relocate
the village. But the villagers did not agree. As 50% of the houses were still intact and
needed only repair work. These people did not want to shift. So after much discussion we
all agreed to rebuild on the same location and the Rs 90,000 was diverted to the NGO,
but the houses were rebuilt.

This was not an easy job, but the model provided by Gujarat government was more or
less accepted by the community and the rebuilding process was largely successful.

Byte: Iyengar/Sushma

One of the key features which have helped this was the owner driven construction policy
framework of the government of Gujarat. The communities were enabled by the
government and the state directly reconstructed their own housing and habitats. So they
got not only financial help but a range of enabling technical and social facilitation
mechanisms by which they could be constructed and that gave people a lot of options at
one hand as to how they wanted to reconstruct their houses. On the other hand, they also
got a lot of guidance on how they could improve their housing.
There was a good synergy between the state, the civil society and the effected

The earthquake resistant construction was carried out with great speed. The involvement
of the community at every stage of planning ensured their commitment. The idea was that
the communities should not be merely recipients of aid, but should be able to interact as
equal partners in the rehabilitation

Byte: Iyengar sushma

Their need to reconstruct was very high so there is this speed, the cost is a huge
differential because they are constructing on their own. They are actually contributing a
lot of their own in terms of labour and finances and recycling their own material. In sum
total, they maximize the spaces of housing that they have. Lets say, they were contractors
or external agencies that had do it for the same amount of money they would get lesser
spaces. But when it is owner driven, they maximize and optimize resources. So therefore,
the processes are cost effective and the levels of satisfaction were really high because
finally they were responsible for their action taken.

VO 12
The construction has to be seismic safe. This was a complex process that needed
clearances at different levels. Public-private partnership that was introduced in
earthquake devastated Gujarat proved to be a workable model that was accepted by all
the stakeholders.

Byte: Iyenger/sushma
So it was handling a whole lot of facilitative needs from information management,
creating transparency, identifying needs on both ends and linking up the external
environment with the affected communities. After two years of rehabilitation and relief
has continued to play a facilitative bridge role in the development. It was not a
mechanism which was limited to being operational only post disaster but has actually
become a developmental mechanism and is similarly playing a bridge role now for
strengthening local self governance of the communities with a linkage to the civil society,
professionals, the state, government programmes and a lot of other sectoral expertise.
This got replicated when tsunami hit tamil nadu

The earthquake had a very severe impact on livelihood. More than 10,000 small and
medium industrial units stopped production due to damage to plants, factories and
machinery. Work at thousands of saltpans stopped after the earthquake. A large number
of craftsmen and artisans who live in Kutch lost their workshops and tools. There was a
heavy loss of livestock in the region, an important source of peoples’ livelihood. There
was a feeling of disempowerment and vulnerability. Lives had to be rebuilt and
livelihoods needed to be restored. It was an arduous task but stake holders performed

Byte: Gitesh Gandhi

After the earthquake our industry department and the industry commissioner prepared a
plan on the basis of the industries and businesses impacted. A rehabilitation package was
announced on the basis on the livelihoods. A loan was provided on a 60:40 ration. On a
loan of Rs 100,000 only 60% was to be repaid whereas 40% was given as a subsidy. In
my block itself 35000 people availed this facility. For the larger industries the benefits
were different. There were rebates on income tax sale tax and excise duty. Till 2007 there
were certain restrictions on those who wanted to set up business in the Kutch region. It
was mandatory that 50% of the workforce employed would be local, with special
preference to those impacted by the earthquake. Permission would be denied to those
who would not follow the guidelines.

Karsa bhai Khadi is the elected head of the local self government of village
Karapaswariya village in district Bhuj. He has played an important role in helping the
school upgrade its facilities during the time of reconstruction. Today this secondary
school boasts of a computer center where children are familiarizing themselves with
computer technology.

Byte: Karshanbhai Rabari

We had a partnership with the Sahajanand Development Agency. We collected some
money from the community and put aside some money from the Panchayat’s funds and
bought 8 computers. Then we bought the keyboards. We wanted LCDs so we worked a
bit harder and collected money for the LCDs. We got the computers but we had no one to
work on them. As it is we were short on teachers in the schools. So with participation
from the Panchayat ,the community and Setu we hired a computer teacher. 50% of the
cost was shared by the community and 50% by the Panchayat. Today there are 40 to 50
students who can work on the computer independently and can even take print outs etc. I
am hopeful that in the next couple of years we will have at least 100 computer literate
students in this village

An important segment of the rehabilitation program consists of programmes aimed at
women’s empowerment. The government of Gujarat and the NGOs has involved women
in all the stages of programme implementation; today a majority of the women even share
the rights to their houses jointly with their husbands.

VO 16
Handicraft and handloom industry has contributed in creating livelihoods and incomes
for the women of this region. To support, maintain and enhance these traditional skills
and capacities of crafts people of Kutch Government supported a large number of
training programs and economic activities. This has helped in not only preserving the
crafts tradition but also enriching their art.

VO 17
The holistic approach adopted by the government incorporated the feedback from the
NGOs working in the impacted areas and developed need based livelihood packages
which helped enhance the already existing skills and resources. In brief the build back
better approach was inherent in all the measures adopted. Most of the evaluation reports
have praised the speed and quality of reconstruction. Most importantly the Gujarat model
is a scalable model and it can be replicated in communities that have been struck by
similar natural calamities.