Bhuj Earthquake India 2001 – A Complete Study

Bhuj Earthquake India

Bhuj Earthquake India - Aerial View
Bhuj Earthquake India – Aerial View

Gujarat : Disaster on a day of celebration : 51st Republic Day on January 26, 2001

  • 7.9 on the Richter scale.
  • 8.46 AM January 26th 2001
  • 20,800 dead

Basic Facts

  • Earthquake: 8:46am on January 26, 2001
  • Epicenter: Near Bhuj in Gujarat, India
  • Magnitude: 7.9 on the Richter Scale

Geologic Setting

  • Indian Plate Sub ducting beneath Eurasian Plate
  • Continental Drift
  • Convergent Boundary

Specifics of 2001 Quake

Compression Stress between region’s faults

Depth: 16km

Probable Fault: Kachchh Mainland

Fault Type: Reverse Dip-Slip (Thrust Fault)



The earthquake’s epicentre was 20km from Bhuj. A city with a population of 140,000 in 2001. The city is in the region known as the Kutch region. The effects of the earthquake were also felt on the north side of the Pakistan border, in Pakistan 18 people were killed.

Tectonic systems

The earthquake was caused at the convergent plate boundary between the Indian plate and the Eurasian plate boundary. These pushed together and caused the earthquake. However as Bhuj is in an intraplate zone, the earthquake was not expected, this is one of the reasons so many buildings were destroyed – because people did not build to earthquake resistant standards in an area earthquakes were not thought to occur. In addition the Gujarat earthquake is an excellent example of liquefaction, causing buildings to ‘sink’ into the ground which gains a consistency of a liquid due to the frequency of the earthquake.


India : Vulnerability to earthquakes

  • 56% of the total area of the Indian Republic is vulnerable to seismic activity.
  • 12% of the area comes under Zone V (A&N Islands, Bihar, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, J&K, N.E.States, Uttaranchal)
  • 18% area in Zone IV (Bihar, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, J&K, Lakshadweep, Maharashtra, Punjab, Sikkim, Uttaranchal, W. Bengal)
  • 26% area in Zone III (Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Kerala, Maharashtra, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttaranchal, W. Bengal)
  • Gujarat: an advanced state on the west coast of India.
  • On 26 January 2001, an earthquake struck the Kutch district of Gujarat at 8.46 am.
  • Epicentre 20 km North East of Bhuj, the headquarter of Kutch.
  • The Indian Meteorological Department estimated the intensity of the earthquake at 6.9 Richter. According to the US Geological Survey, the intensity of the quake was 7.7 Richter.
  • The quake was the worst in India in the last 180 years.

What earthquakes do

  • Casualties: loss of life and injury.
  • Loss of housing.
  • Damage to infrastructure.
  • Disruption of transport and communications.
  • Panic
  • Looting.
  • Breakdown of social order.
  • Loss of industrial output.
  • Loss of business.
  • Disruption of marketing systems.

A summary

  • The earthquake devastated Kutch. Practically all buildings and structures of Kutch were brought down.
  • Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Jamnagar, Surendaranagar and Patan were heavily damaged.
  • Nearly 19,000 people died. Kutch alone reported more than 17,000 deaths.
  • 1.66 lakh people were injured. Most were handicapped for the rest of their lives.
  • The dead included 7,065 children (0-14 years) and 9,110 women.
  • There were 348 orphans and 826 widows.

Loss classification

Deaths and injuries: demographics and labour markets

Effects on assets and GDP

Effects on fiscal accounts

Financial markets

Disaster loss

  • Initial estimate Rs. 200 billion.
  • Came down to Rs. 144 billion.
  • No inventory of buildings
  • Non-engineered buildings
  • Land and buildings
  • Stocks and flows
  • Reconstruction costs (Rs. 106 billion) and loss estimates (Rs. 99 billion) are different
  • Public good considerations

Human Impact: Tertiary effects

  • Affected 15.9 million people out of 37.8 in the region (in areas such as Bhuj, Bhachau, Anjar, Ganhidham, Rapar)
  • High demand for food, water, and medical care for survivors
  • Humanitarian intervention by groups such as Oxfam: focused on Immediate response and then rehabilitation
  • Of survivors, many require persistent medical attention
  • Region continues to require assistance long after quake has subsided
  • International aid vital to recovery

Social Impacts



Social Impacts
Social Impacts
  • 80% of water and food sources were destroyed.
  • The obvious social impacts are that around 20,000 people were killed and near 200,000 were injured.
  • However at the same time, looting and violence occurred following the quake, and this affected many people too.
  • On the other hand, the earthquake resulted in millions of USD in aid, which has since allowed the Bhuj region to rebuild itself and then grow in a way it wouldn’t have done otherwise.
  • The final major social effect was that around 400,000 Indian homes were destroyed resulting in around 2 million people being made homeless immediately following the quake.

Social security and insurance

  • Ex gratia payment: death relief and monetary benefits to the injured
  • Major and minor injuries
  •  Cash doles
  • Government insurance fund
  • Group insurance schemes
  • Claim ratio

Demographics and labour market

  • Geographic pattern of ground motion, spatial array of population and properties at risk, and their risk vulnerabilities.
  • Low population density was a saving grace.
  • Holiday
  • Extra fatalities among women
  • Effect on dependency ratio
  • Farming and textiles


Economic Impacts
Economic Impacts

Economic  Impacts

  • Total damage estimated at around $7 billion. However $18 billion of aid was invested in the Bhuj area.
  • Over 15km of tarmac road networks were completely destroyed.
  • In the economic capital of the Gujarat region, Ahmedabad, 58 multi storey buildings were destroyed, these buildings contained many of the businesses which were generating the wealth of the region.
  • Many schools were destroyed and the literacy rate of the Gujarat region is now the lowest outside southern India.

Impact on GDP

  • Applying ICOR
  • Rs. 99 billion – deduct a third as loss of current value added.
  • Get GDP loss as Rs. 23 billion
  • Adjust for heterogeneous capital, excess capacity, loss Rs. 20 billion.
  • Reconstruction efforts.
  • Likely to have been Rs. 15 billion.

Fiscal accounts

  • Differentiate among different taxes: sales tax, stamp duties and registration fees, motor vehicle tax, electricity duty, entertainment tax, profession tax, state excise and other taxes. Shortfall of Rs. 9 billion of which about Rs. 6 billion unconnected with earthquake.
  • Earthquake related other flows.
  • Expenditure:Rs. 8 billion on relief. Rs. 87 billion on rehabilitation.

Impact on Revenue Continue Reading


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