Tremors And Preparedness

In the last few days, there were a few earthquakes in Jammu and Kashmir. On February 5, a tremor registering a magnitude of 5.7 shook Kashmir Valley. On Thursday last, a temblor measuring 3.8 on the Richter scale hit Gulmarg. These quakes fortunately did not cause any casualty or damage to any property.
Earthquakes are not strange to this part of the globe. On October 8, 2005, a 7.6 earthquake shook the Kashmir region in 2005. It led to the loss of around 80,000 lives with Pakistan controlled Kashmir being the worst affected. On this side of the J&K, the quake caused devastation along with the frontier villages particularly Uri and Kupwara district. If anything, the recent quakes should be a warning about a possible repetition of the natural disaster in the region.
Powerful earthquakes are in a class of their own, able to strike without warning and capable of creating widespread devastation.
India has been divided into four zones viz. zone V, IV, III and II according to the seismic zoning map of India prepared by Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) based on historical seismicity and strong ground motions.
Out of these zones, Zone V exhibits the highest seismic risk and zone II has the least.
All districts of Kashmir valley and Doda district fall in Seismic Zone-V, and the rest of the districts fall in Seismic Zone-IV.
The time of occurrence of a big earthquake cannot be predicted accurately with existing technology even as the government of India revealed in parliament earlier this year that it plans to strengthen the existing National Seismological Network with additional 35 field stations during 2021-22, thus making it to 150. This will help in the detection of smaller earthquakes in selected locations.
Recent earthquakes highlight the need for preparedness on part of the government beforehand rather than managing its aftermath.
Given the high vulnerability, there is no ordinary escape for the region from susceptibility to earthquakes. However, the foreknowledge of potential danger areas can help mitigate the impact of a disaster. Keeping in view the preparations of the J&K, any jolt leads to more panic.
There is a need to accept earthquakes as a reality and do everything to redefine development plans, especially in terms of building quake-resistant buildings. There ought to be a systematic resort to disaster drills to educate the public on what to do during an earthquake. Preparedness remains the key to such disasters.

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