BENGALURU: Geo-physicists working in Himalayas and researchers from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru had in various reports warned that critical seismic zone around the Himalayan region could trigger earthquakes. A report published in 2012 on earthquake probabilities, by the researchers from the Civil Engineering Department of IISc, had revealed that the major movement of earth’s plates could lead to earthquake in the region. Dr K Sreevalsa from IISc has stated that Nepal and other regions of Himalayas, including North Eastern states of India, would be prone to mega earthquake in the coming years.
Dr Sreevalsa had even written to the Central Government and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) officials suggesting various measures to cope with any eventuality. “I had suggested the NDMA and the government to be prepared with medical shelters, as there was possible energy accumulation due to seismic gap and could possibly lead to a mega earthquake,” Dr Sreevlasa said.
“This is due to collision of earth plates in the Himalayan region, which is known as the youngest and still growing mountain range of the earth. The collision of Indian Plate (covering Himalayan region) and Eurasian Plate (covering China and Kazakhstan) is the main reason for the Saturday’s earthquake. The fact of mega earthquake was established on the speed (40-50 mm per year) of these plates, ranging 200 km wide and deep. If you look at the seismic map India the Himalayan and North Eastern region has been placed in Zone V - the highest vulnerability area when it comes to earthquake,” Professor T.G. Sitharam, under whose guidance the seismic report was prepared.
He explained that it is not the earthquakes which creates disaster, but the buildings which fall under its impact that often leads to high death tolls. “We cannot predict the earthquakes well in advance, but in some parts of the world we have been able to recognise the P-waves (Primary Waves), but these waves can be felt just 20-30 seconds before the earthquake, which is too less of a time to alert the masses. But once the P-waves are registered, we can ensure that nuclear power plants are shut and the dam gates opened, in case they are holding full water capacity. Hence in most the earthquakes we must depend on the mitigation measures,” Professor Sitharam explained.
A.K. Shukla, former deputy director general and head of Earth Quake Risk Evaluation Centre, IMD, New Delhi, strongly recommended that the need of the hour was constructing earthquake resistant buildings and safeguarding the mountain slopes by maintaining green cover and not disturb them by damming and drilling. “The Earth constitutes of 10 major plates and two of them are very active in Himalayan region. Besides IISc several global models had predicted major earthquake in this region. Starting from Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir to Guwahati in Assam, the Himalayan region falls under most vulnerable seismic zones of India and the local authorities must ensure the building codes are followed in these regions,” he suggested.