.: Opinions

Date: 18 Feb 2012

Earthquake Problem of the State

When Pre-disaster preparation is more important then post-disaster schemes.

Zahid Mohammad Mir

Earthquake damages in the Kashmir region bears a testament to the fact this region is highly penchant to receive strong earthquakes and this fact is further buttressed by history as well as the damage statistics of the past earthquakes . So what have we done to unshackle ourselves from this necessary evil, the usual answer would be that the so called very concerned state of J&K has invested a lot of time , money and effort to construct and reconstruct the post disaster schemes which will provide immediate rescue, relief and rehabilitation to the damage stricken population whenever necessary. I don't deride it to be an honest effort , rather i think that the focus of the state needs to be swerved away to an altogether different aspect of the earthquake menace.

Times have changed and so has science .With extensive research, experimentation and persistent handwork of Civil Engineering professional across the globe, Earthquake sciences and engineering have matured enough during the course of time to provide the community with earthquake resistant buildings and houses . This science has improved so drastically that today it is possible to construct houses which are capable to resist earthquake shocks to the best extent scientifically possible and thereby again emerge as a rescuer of people , which unfortunately are quite unaware of this .

As goes the wise adage “Prevention is better than cure”, so wouldn't it be logical to focus on preventing earthquake damage rather then to prepare for post disaster measures, thereby not only saving on the economic side but most importantly saving the costly lives or people which are incontestably priceless. So the responsibility of the state should be to bring earthquake sciences in lime-light and make people aware of earthquake resistant construction rather then focusing of post disaster treatment. It is quite plaintive to learn that almost nothing has been done in this regard. If Technology is there why not to put it to use ? It highlights the concern of out state authorities towards the people, which have no choice but to be the damage recipients of this situation.

In the present scenario, it is quite lucid that the ingenuous people of our state are not aware of how earthquake building design concepts can help them to construct earthquake resistant structures. The problem is further aggrandized as it comes to light that most of the hospitals and schools and are not safe from earthquake stability point of view . Hospitals being the lifeline of a community cannot be afforded to go defunct in times of an earthquake crises as the whole affected population will be left nowhere to go left at the mercy of god. Similarly schools in our state are not strong enough to receive earthquake of a considerably higher magnitude and one is not ready both on moral as well as humanitarian grounds to see casualty and deaths in the form of small innocent children.

The Gujarat state which is contemporary to our state with respect to earthquake problem ,received on the most vicious earthquake in 2001(Bhuj earthquake),it became an eye opener for them and since then Gujarat been a paradigm in seismic study and implementation programs and has emerged successful in building a relatively earthquake proof state. Right after the Bhuj earthquake the Gujarat government was on all toes and involved civil engineering professional from the whole nation be it IIT`s , NIT`s , IISc, etc and worked tirelessly shoulder to shoulder with them to mitigate the problem in their state. The evidence of that can be found in leading earthquake research libraries like that of National Information Center of Earthquake Engineering (NICEE) “www.nicee.org” where all the research has mostly been funded the concerned state of Gujarat.

To Compare our state with that of the flourishing Gujarat in this context we stay nowhere. Our state has never promoted any research work in this regard. The best option for the state government would have been to involve the premier Technical institution of the state like that of National Institute Of Technology Srinagar and promote , aid and encourage it to proceed further in the earthquake research. The immediate need of the hour is to set up an earthquake research and development center in NIT Srinagar where bright students aspire towards understanding and enervating the earthquake peril of the state. Not only will it help in enfeebling the earthquake but will help in conducting research implementation programs dedicated to the state in terms of it's unique topography, seismic conditions,construction material and building techniques.

The tide is high to stop buck passing about belling the cat , and act responsible towards the problem as when lives are lost , there is no coming back .

Author is Final year Civil Engineering Dept., National Institute Of Tech. Srinagar. Email: zahidmir7@gmail.com

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