Can Delhi-NCR withstand an Earthquake?
The mild tremors on 16th April were a gentle reminder of the fact that Delhi and NCR are Earthquake prone. Both come under the seismic zone IV, which means high risk damage zone, making them prone to earthquakes of magnitude up to 7-7.5 on Richter scale.
The reason has been found by geologists, who in turn have found Delhi-Moradabad fault and Delhi-Haridwar ridge passing through the cities, making them sensitive to any displacement along the fractures. Due to this, the high rise buildings, which have mushroomed all across Delhi, especially along the Trans-Yamuna, Connaught Place, east and north east Delhi areas, are under the threat banner. As per a study by Indian Meteorological department, the newer alluvial soil type in the regions, make the specified areas more earthquakes prone.
However, earthquake alone does not prove to be fatal, but the poorly designed buildings, sub-standard construction materials and above all no-compliance of safety norms that make the after effects of an earthquake life threatening. Hence, building quake resistant structures is the need of the hour.
The National Building Code of India has chalked out a detailed list of features for this reason, which high rise buildings should ideally stick to. From good structural configuration, maximum lateral strength, adequate stiffness to good ductility, all features make a building, an earthquake resistant structure.
If new buildings can be built with new technologies, then the old structures can also be repaired and restored with seismic sensor features. Based on the original architectural blue print of a building, a diagnosis can be done to assess the elements of foundation, concrete and pillars. Architectural cues can be taken from the civil and structural experts, who plan restoration of heritage monuments through seismical retrofitting.
Not just the builders, the owners or occupants should also cross check the fire evacuation plans of a building, ensure that the builder has followed all fire and earthquake safety codes and has obtained the no-objection-certificate from the authorities. They should also participate in mock drills or other training programs at the community level for taking the right precautionary measures in the event of an earthquake. When it comes to natural disasters, prevention is not just better than cure, it is quite often the only option available.