Jammu and Kashmir is not strange to various kinds of natural or other disasters. There is always an urgent need of finding new, smarter, and more effective ways of managing disasters. There is thus a need to lay a greater focus on building capacity to assess and reduce the risks of a disaster, than just deploying resources on post-disaster relief and rehabilitation. Various kinds of disasters happen in Kashmir. Earthquakes are one of them. 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 last year revealed in parliament 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.
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.
On June 2, the Chief Secretary, Dr. Arun Kumar Mehta rightly asked the Disaster Management Department to make optimal use of technology in communications to connect the disaster prone areas especially the hilly-terrain and far-flung difficult-to-reach places.
The Chief Secretary also rightly asked the Department to extend assistance to communication services through satellite telephones in areas without connectivity during important events.