Examining India's Readiness To Battle Earthquakes
The earthquake that shattered neighbouring Nepal a year ago was a display of how small human efforts can look when the nature strikes. But then, the battered nation got up and started rebuilding from scratch. This was a proof of how humans go on despite the many hindrances. The same is true of the more recent tragedies in Japan and Ecuador.
India, too, has a geophysical position that makes it earthquake resistant. This is why when Nepal witnessed the massive destruction of life and property, we felt only tremors. However, we must keep in mind that the entire Northeast, Uttarakhand, Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh are some of the highly earthquake-prone areas in India. Besides, many other zones like Delhi-National Capital Region also fall under high-risk category. In view of that, the country has to be ready in case of a disaster. And this is why the government has put in place several measures.
A look at the existing bodies and laws that provide guidelines on building earthquake-resistant constructions:
- The National Institute of Disaster Management under the Union home ministry studies and manages disasters like earthquakes, cyclones, etc.
- The Supreme Court in 2014 directed the National Disaster Management Authority to undertake public awareness campaigns on earthquakes. It stated that all real estate projects should mention the seismic zone under which the area falls. (India is divided into four seismic zones on the basis of their vulnerability.) The apex court also proposed that developers follow specified construction quality depending on the category they fall under.
- The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) had introduced IS 1893:1984 Criteria (for earthquake-resistant design of structures) and IS 4326:1993 (earthquake-resistant design and construction of buildings code of practice) which lay down the standards to be followed for buildings. The Earthquake Engineering Sectional Committee under BIS also focuses on earthquake-resistant designs.
- The Indian Building Congress convenes meetings of experts from various domains to discuss the latest developments that could be utilised in the Indian context.
- The National Building Code of India incorporates in Indian policies the best practices on earthquake-resistant constructions followed worldwide.
- The system of issuing a structural safety certificate has been introduced in many places across the country, and local development authorities do not approve the layout plan for a building without this certificate.
- There have been a few instances of developers failing to implement the guidelines on earthquake-resistant measures to save money. Inferior-quality construction material and faults in structural design are the main culprits of buildings collapsing during earthquakes. Improving the quality of building material may prove an efficient way to make constructions disaster-proof.
- Developers must be provided incentives to build earthquake-resistant buildings. A monitoring system and stringent penalties should also be imposed on developers in case of any violation of prescribed guidelines.
- We are a country with many old and heritage buildings. Such structure should be renovated and preserved to prevent any deterioration.