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Tremors of Earthquake Terrifies the People of Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand

Jun 14, 2018

Tremors of Earthquake Terrifies the People of Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand
Tremors of Earthquake Terrifies the People of Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand | Credit: Wion

An earthquake measuring a magnitude of 4.0 on the Richter scale has jolted the northern state of Uttarakhand on Thursday morning. Uttarkashi district and few more places in the state are reported to have felt the quake at 6 o'clock this morning. Indian meteorological department (IMD) has confirmed that the jolt has occurred at the depth of 10 kms, with Uttarkashi region as its epicenter and had the latitude of 30.8 North and Longitude of 78.2 East. Fortunately, no damage to property or people has been found yet.

Earlier this week on Wednesday, the Meteorological center, Dehradun had issued warnings of thunderstorm and rain from June 13-17. 

The authorities have predicted that few places are likely to experience light moderate showers and thunderstorm accompanied by gusty winds on Thursday. Many other places in the state are likely to experience similar weather conditions the following days.

Minor landslides and heavy rains have affected the commute through the Badrinath National Highway earlier this month and the transportation has been blocked for a period of time. However, the tremor was not felt in most parts of Jammu and Kashmir which is considered as highly sensitive seismological region, vulnerable to earthquakes.

History of Earthquakes in Central Himalayan region

The tremor in northern regions has not been the first time this year. An earthquake of magnitude 4.1 had hit the place of Kinnaur in Himachal Pradesh on 21st of May, this year.

A stronger jolt of magnitude 6.2 had terrified the people of Tajikistan in Afghan border. The impact of the blow was felt in Delhi-NCR and Poonch and Rajouri districts of Jammu and Kashmir. Residents of Kullu and Shimla in Himachal Pradesh had also experienced few light tremors. 

In the month of April, Uttarakhand’s Disaster Mitigation and Management Centre (DMMC) had warned the about the possibility of a major earthquake measuring more than eight on the Richter scale to strike the states of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Nepal as the hills of Uttarakhand were frequently hit by mild tremors.

The central Himalaya, spanning Himachal Pradesh, Nepal and Uttarakhand is considered as a prominent ‘seismic gap’, is generally believed to be the segment that is most vulnerable to Earthquakes. The central seismic gap of the Himalayan front has faced two major earthquakes in the past, in AD 1505 and 1803.

Many scientists and seismologists have unanimously agreed to the possibility of a huge, devastating earthquake measuring more than 6 on the Richer to strike the central Himalayan region including Uttarakhand and Himachal.

Following a few tremors in 2017, workshops and discussions were conducted in Dehradun regarding the importance of disaster resilient infrastructure in the Himalayas. They stated that devastation due to tremors can occur at any time in Himalayan region and the state and central governments should work on developing tremor resilient structures to minimize the damage to life and property. 

While the scientists and seismologist warn about the disastrous earthquakes, environmentalists and common people blame the government for not taking the required steps to curb the earthquake menace. 

The political parties who are busy making promises to win votes, have forgot about the fragile ecosystem of the Himalayan region. If the government does not regulate the construction of high-rise buildings and hydroelectric projects, the people inhabiting the earthquake prone zones are sure to pay a very heavy price.

Expert’s suggestions

Decentralized construction techniques using the centuries old-wisdom considering the local topography and climatic conditions should be adopted to minimize damage. Manually built roads did not disturb the fragile nature of Himalayas. But the use of JCB machines, electric drillers and dynamites disrupted the landscape paving way to landslides and other natural calamities. Vegetation on either sides of the road can provide a lot of mechanical support to the weak terrain.