Preparedness Need of Hour for Quake-prone District: Expert

Continuous drought, deforestation, groundwater extraction have put Vellore in zone III

Published: 01st November 2015 06:13 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st November 2015 06:13 AM   |  A+A-

VELLORE:Vellore district and indeed the whole of Northern Tamil Nadu has graduated to zone III (from zone II) in the seismic map as it has become more earthquake-prone arising from continuing drought, excessive extraction of ground water, discharge of chemical effluent into water bodies, de-forestation, vehicular pollution and mining activity in Kolar Gold Fields.

“Preparedness is therefore very vital and the government should evolve urgent programmes to develop region-centric strategies and plans to manage quakes,” Dr Ganapathy, an expert in quakes attached to the Centre for Disaster Management and Mitigation (CDMM) at VIT university.

Every time an earthquake occurs somewhere in the world, it is a wake-up call for us to focus on our preparedness to tackle natural disasters, opined Ganapathy, who has closely monitored earthquakes across the globe.

“The pity is that we have no tools to predict them, but we can develop preparedness strategies, data and protocols to manage them effectively,” he pointed out.

India is experiencing several movement of faults in several regions.

Referring to the earthquake that rocked the Afghanistan-Pakistan region on Monday that took a toll of over 200, he said that the impact was less as the epicentre was not in urban areas. While many small countries like Philippines, Japan, Taiwan which faced natural disasters such as tsunamis and earthquakes have developed their own ways of tackling them.

“We are lagging behind. Except Gujarat and Odisha which have developed some preparedness plans, most of the states in India are yet to be prepared for natural disaster management,” he pointed out.

Ganapathy who recently returned from Philippines after conducting courses on quakes, pointed out that citizens there well prepared for such disasters.

“On the day I landed, there was a cyclone in the region and even laymen were aware of the cyclone intensity levels,” he said.

The Philippines government has undertaken a thorough study on earthquakes and has launched a community-based disaster management programme with standard operating procedures to be followed. The CDMM has signed MoU with two universities in Philippines to provide support using remote sensing and GIS technologies for quake management.

Four districts - Chennai, Vellore, Coimbatore and Kanyakumari have been classified as seismically risky zones. Out of the total 103 earthquakes/earth tremors that have been reported in the state, about 51 percent have been higher than 3 on the Richter scale in the past 200 years of seismic history. Earthquakes of magnitude 5 or more are around Chennai, Villupuram, Ooty, Coimbatore and Pondicherry. Moderate ones in the range of 4 to 4.9 magnitude are distributed, around Tiruppattur, Dharmapuri, Salem, Coimbatore, Trichirappalli, and Madurai areas.

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