Home >Politics >Policy >Study warning of earthquake in Uttarakhand raises concerns

New Delhi: A parliamentary standing committee on Thursday recommended that the centre look into the relocation of people from 400 Uttarakhand villages deemed to be the most vulnerable to disasters.

The committee assessed the preparedness of Uttarakhand to cope with disasters in the wake of a study that warned about the possibility of a deadly earthquake striking the Himalayan state, similar to the April quake in Nepal that killed more than 8,000 people.

Five districts in Uttarakhand on the Indo-Nepal and Indo-Tibet borders come in seismic zone V, with a population of about 3-3.5 million that is likely to be affected by an earthquake.

The committee asked the central government to examine “not only sympathetically but expeditiously" the financial and material aid that the Uttarakhand government has estimated it would require for relocating people from these villages.

The Uttarakhand government has sent a report to the centre, estimating that it would require 10,000 crore for relocating the vulnerable population, which it says is ready to be moved .

The committee also stressed the importance of spreading public awareness to ensure that the state is prepared to deal with any disasters and their aftermath. It recommended the Uttarakhand government conduct mock drills on a regular basis.

The ministry of earth sciences (MOES) is developing an earthquake early warning system in Uttarakhand as part of which 100 sensors will be installed in the state which will be connected with a central recording station established at the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee.

“They have already set up 52 of these sensors and we expect that this system should be completed in a couple of months," said Shailesh Nayak, secretary, MOES.

Relocation of residents in vulnerable areas should be based on a well thought out strategy, said C.P. Rajendran, professor at Bengaluru-based Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research.

“Secondly, the early warning systems they are developing , it is hard to sustain such initiatives in the long run without a strong research infrastructure and sufficient manpower," he added.

“The next earthquake may happen 10 years or more later, will they be able to sustain these initiatives with the kind of rigour that is required?" asked Rajendran, who was one the researchers involved in the studies cited by the parliamentary standard committee on science and technology, environment and forests.

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