Workshop on ‘Urban Earthquake Disaster Risk Reduction’ Opens at KU


Srinagar – Aimed at sensitising the people of J&K particularly of the valley most of whose districts fall in seismic zone V about the earthquake disaster mitigation measures, a 3-day workshop on “Urban Earthquake Disaster Risk Reduction “begun here at University of Kashmir on Saturday which was inaugurated by Governor NN Vohra.

While inaugurating the 3-day workshop which has been organised by University of Kashmir in collaboration with National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and Ministry of Earth Sciences (GOI) Vohra said “Our state of Jammu and Kashmir falls in seismic zone IV and V with most parts of the valley falling in seismic zone V which makes it highly vulnerable to earthquakes. The area has witnessed some devastating earthquakes in the past with the recent one being in 2005 which resulted in large scale destruction of men and property. Therefore there is a need to prepare ourselves to face any eventuality in future and work in close coordination with NDMA and other agencies.”

Suggesting the NDMA to stop funding those states who do not fall in line with the building and construction guidelines and procedures as laid down by NDMA NN Vohra said “NDMA needs to take some stringent measures against those states who do not comply with the standards of urban expansion and construction of buildings as laid down by it. They should stop financing such states for programs and campaigns launched by NDMA all over the country.”

While maintaining that the rate of growth in urban areas in J&K is 35 per cent Vohra said that there is a need to make the engineers, masons and other people associated with construction of buildings aware about the earthquake resistant structures and other possible designs so as to minimise the impact of earthquakes.

“As has been rightly said by experts that it is the buildings which kill and not the earthquakes therefore, it is a high time that our engineers and masons are trained to construct earthquake resistant buildings because we do not have to save ourselves only but also the tourist population who visit the valley in huge numbers,” said Vohra .

Vohra said that the students have a great role in the society and they can sensitise the society about the disaster mitigation measures by spreading public awareness in their schools,colleges, Universities and in their own families at home.

In his Presidential address Vice Chairman, NDMA M. Shashidhar Reddy said that there is lot of significance in planning and organising the workshop in Jammu and Kashmir- a state which falls in seismic zones IV and V and the state summer capital Srinagar itself in zone V.

“Sikkim experienced an earthquake last year of magnitude 6.9 resulting in death of 75 people. But Sikkim is a small state with a population of just over 6lakh. Had this been in Kashmir, it could have resulted in nearly 1,500 deaths,” said Reddy.

Reddy said that NDMA has started an initiative to launch the first ever “Multi state earthquake preparedness campaign’ involving Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Union Territory and Himachal Pradesh.

“The scenario for this is being generated by the experts of the various IITs of the country. For this we are assuming a magnitude 8.0 earthquake with epicentre at Sundarnagar in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh. We will be inviting observers from Jammu and Kashmir and Uttrakhand as well. This preparedness campaign will culminate in a mock exercise early next year which will be conducted simultaneously in all these states and Union territory,” said Reddy.

He said many professions have national level bodies for playing regulatory role in code of ethics and accreditation.

“Medical Council of India, Institute of Chartered Accountants of India and Council of Architects are such examples. There is an urgent requirement for such a body covering civil engineers and Ministry of Human Resource is in the process of finalizing engineers bill,” added Reddy

While presiding over the inaugural session Vice Chancellor University of Kashmir Prof Talat said that the 3-day workshop has provided an opportunity to different people across the country including the scientists to come and discuss the possibilities and ways by which the impact of an earthquake disaster could be minimised.

“University is the right place for organising such an event so that the students who have a great role in moulding the opinion of the society could be made aware about the disaster mitigation procedures and measures who could then spread this message and awareness in their families and then to the society at large,” said Prof Talat.

In his address Dr Shailesh Nayak, Secretary Ministry of Earth Sciences said that there is a need for a multi-pronged strategy which includes hazard resilient maps, socio-economic support, and continuous assessment, up gradation of forecasting system and information parameters to reduce the loss of life and property at the time of an earthquake disaster.

Others who spoke on the occasion include Prof Harsh Gupta and Dr Muzzafar members of NDMA and Prof Neelofar Khan Dean DSW University of Kashmir who presented vote of thanks on the occasion.

On the occasion Governor NN Vohra also inaugurated an exhibition organised by National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and NDMA at University grounds and visited various stalls including models of collapse structures, search and rescue, medical first aid response, radiological and nuclear emergencies and flood water rescue stalls.

Later besides a number of technical sessions and keynote speeches on various aspects of the earthquakes, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) made a live demonstration of the search and rescue operation during any disaster, in the campus which was witnessed by more than 2000 participants from various schools, academia, government agencies and the civil society. Vice chancellor Prof Talat  on this occasion announced that  Kashmir University is going to take this campaign to the schools  and colleges .

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