Tribune News Service
Amritsar, October 26
Panic gripped the city residents as they came out on roads after the tremors of an earthquake lasting less than a minute struck the district at around 2.40 pm today. So far, no casualty had been reported in the district.
The intensity and duration of the tremor forced the people to rush out of their houses, shops and offices. Fear-stricken people were seen looking at the trembling buildings in their vicinity.
There are four seismic zones in India covering 38 cities and Amritsar falls in the fourth seismic zone. These areas are prone to earthquakes. Experts have already warned that a tremble measuring between 6.5 to 7.9 on the Richter scale could strike in this zone any time.
The earthquake tremors sent shivers down the spine of the city residents. It also served as a wake-up call for the city residents and the administration to prepare to deal with any such eventuality.
The city has experienced tremors several times in the past couple of years. Earthquake jolts had been felt on April 16, 2013. Tremors had been felt on March 22, which had originated in the Hindukush-mountain range in Afghanistan. Today again, the epicentre was said to be in Afghanistan’s same area.
Besides, earthquake jolts had been felt in the city on April 4, 2011, which had originated 50 km from Baitadi in Nepal.
This vulnerability makes it necessary to raise seismically-safe buildings to develop a resistance to deadly quakes.
A city-based disaster management expert, Surjit Sharma, said under the disaster-risk management programme, the state governments has been asked to identify the buildings, including heritage monuments, which could be damaged due to an earthquake. Under the seismic zoning, the shapes of buildings and structural designs had been well defined but implementation is being ignored.
The norms for making buildings earthquake-resistant are not being followed and the government agencies are turning a blind eye to it. Besides, a large number of illegal colonies have mushroomed in the city. These colonies share the same problems of congestion as in the walled city.
Narrow and arterial roads make it tough for the rescue teams to bring heavy vehicles in to carry out rescue operations. Further, haphazard parking of vehicles adds to the problem, as residents park vehicles on the roads at night.
Sharma opined that in order to reduce vulnerability to earthquakes, the municipal town planner must ensure that new buildings adhere to earthquake-proof measures.
He stressed that each household must have a plan to meet such natural calamity and suggested to them to keep their important documents with a reliable person, living in a safe zone. “Insure your house and household items against earthquake also,” he said.
He maintained that the district administration needs to devise a policy and train a group of volunteers to met any eventuality.
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