IIT Kharagpur professors’ idea of constructing shelters saved thousands of lives from ‘Fani’ cyclone

The cyclone Fani has started to show its fury all across the state of Odisha, West Bengal, Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh. The fury has been so devastating that it has hampered the routine life and drastically affected the lives across the states. Due to the destruction made by this cyclone in the states and basic infrastructure like roads, electricity etc, thousands of people took shelter in the two-storey structures which is designed by two professors of IIT Kharagpur.

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After the disaster made by 1999 supercyclone, Sriman Kumar Bhattacharyya, professor of civil engineering and Gopal Chandra Mitra, have started a project. They took one and a half year to build a prototype structure in 2004. The two-storey structures stand on stilts and are built with reinforced concrete and masonry infill walls. An infill wall — a wall between two columns of reinforced concrete — increases the strength of the columns. The shelter had some open space so that air can be passed.

The complete project was funded by the Prime Minister’s relief. About 600 such shelters had been built since 2004 to accommodate people during cyclones. Each shelter can accommodate a maximum of 1,000 people.

Bhattacharyya explained why they kept the ground floor of the storm shelters open.

“If we had designed an entirely closed structure, it would have suffered immense stress after being buffeted by wind. So, we have kept a lot of open space on the ground floor for the wind to pass without facing any resistance,” Bhattacharyya said.

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