CHITRAL: The use of corrugated iron roofing sheets has significantly increased in Chitral region since a strong earthquake damaged houses in 2015 making their reconstruction necessary.
A survey conducted by a local NGO shows that more than 90 per cent muddy houses had been reconstructed in Chitral and in almost all cases, corrugated iron roofing sheets were used due to their durability and strength.
Engineer Altaf Hussain Shah, who is associated with an international organisation based in Chitral, told Dawn that the residents turned the widespread earthquake destruction into an opportunity and rebuilt houses on cement foundations to make them earthquake-resistant.
He said muddy houses saw large-scale destruction in the earthquake compared with those with metal roofing and therefore, the people opted for the latter while reconstructing houses.
The engineer said metal roofing was the best option during house building in a seismic zone like Chitral as it was light weight and resilient and thus, ensuring structural stability.
Expert says metal roofing minimises damage to life in case of collapse
“The metal roofing causes the minimal possible damage to public life even if it collapses due to an earthquake,” he said.
Mr Shah said he was certain that no house constructed after 2015 was roofed by mud mixed with straws, while all muddy houses would be replaced in the next 10 years.
He said the payment of Rs200,000 compensation to the owners of earthquake-hit houses coupled with distribution of construction materials by NGOs encouraged the use of new construction form.
The engineer said the metal roofing saved people from the trouble of repairing muddy roofs throughout the year, while torrential rains caused percolation and seepage of rainwater.
He said the metal roofing also relieved the people from the tedious work of snow clearance from rooftops of muddy houses in the winter season, whose slopped surface caused the accumulated snow to slip down to the ground.
Prof Syed Shamsun Nazar of Rech valley in Upper Chitral said the clearance of snow from the roof locally called ‘istan drek’ used to be one of the difficult jobs, which men had to perform in the winter season after every snowfall.
He said the villagers helped each other do that, while feasts were arranged in the approaching night followed by musical concerts giving a cultural touch to the exercise.
The educationalist added that that practice had become a thing of the past as all houses in his village had metal roofing.
He said the use of metal roofing sheets and use of cement in house foundations, floors, pillars and walls manifested the improvement of the people’s financial conditions and thus, showing poverty alleviation.
Hidayatullah, a dealer of corrugated iron sheets, said soon after the 2015 earthquake hit the region, the construction material business grew significantly as hundreds of new shops opened across the district.
Published in Dawn, March 4th, 2019