Minimizing Earthquake Disasters in Kashmir

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It requires all people to actively shoulder the responsibilities of minimizing the imminent threats of earthquake disasters. It is true that there is no readymade remedy to get rid of earthquakes and the in reality we have to live with such disasters, which can be achieved if we abide by the standard building codes that are required in an earthquake prone area. Such information, if not available, should be made available as soon as possible, and people should be informed about the science, technique, and remedy of earthquake disasters in Jammu and Kashmir. Start now.
Media in Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of the globe have been very kind to inform people about such disasters and I am very thankful for their consistent support. If certain media outlets have somehow sensationalized such information it should be avoided in the future as we aim to share the current and scientifically accurate information with people rather than to create panic. I am hopeful that in the future media will thoroughly review such articles before they are published so that scientifically robust and rightly researched information is shared with the people. This will develop a well-educated, and scientifically aware society in the state that is what we have always been aiming for.
Schools, colleges and the universities should take the lead and form a network of communication channels, involving relevant researchers, administration, students, and all other people throughout the state to initiate the steps for natural disasters. This is achievable provided we work for it without asking for returns. We are aware that the current financial condition of the state is not in a good shape, and it often takes month or years to implement a bill, therefore we need coordinate such work with a minimum budget, and via voluntary recruitments.
The department of Earth Sciences at the Kashmir University, and Geology Department of Jammu University have initiated, and improved our understanding of the science of natural disasters in Jammu and Kashmir. Such steps are greatly required to keep the research capacity of such institutions in par with the current research trends on natural disasters the world over. In future the expectations will multiple, thus both the institutions have to work harder to deliver high quality research required to keep the state on forefront of the research on natural disasters. Some universities in India and a few foreign universities have hugely supported, collaborated and produced valuable data for the understanding of the earthquakes, tectonics and geology of the state. Such efforts by international researchers deserves praise and need to be encouraged. It directly helps us to understand the hazards and geology of the region, which is a treasure for all of us.
People have to understand that the earthquake threat in the state is real but its timing is uncertain. This means we have to get ready and start exploring what could be done to save life in case of a disaster. Thus we need to facilitate the propagation of updated information about earthquakes through various channels to people. And we ought to make sure that any future structure in the state implements the earthquake resistant building codes. If such codes are not currently available I would like to request the government to make them available as soon as possible. And make them available for free. Also, state government needs to maintain a separate website where everything related to earthquake disasters in Jammu and Kashmir is posted, e.g. active fault database, building codes, hazard maps, what to do before, during and/or after a disaster etc.

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Research on earthquake resistant structures suggests that the basic principle of such structures is the structural-integrity that holds the various parts of a building together. For example the four walls of a building should communicate with each other through structural integrity and that will make it be behave like a single block. This is completely lacking in our present buildings because somehow we have traditionally erected our buildings like a stack of cubes with no structural integrity. The load on such a building is mainly supported by its corners where two walls are linked. And when an earthquake shaking occurs such buildings are bound to collapse easily because the entire building doesn’t act like one intact-block. This is because the earthquake shaking is distributed differently in the building, which ultimately results in its collapse. However if such a building is made to resistant an earthquake shaking it should be made in such a way that all the components are held together and when shaking occurs the entire building moves as one object not just the walls or individual portions. Thus it is not hard engineering marvel. It is easy. And anyone who can understand this basic idea could start such building of such a structure right-away.
Professor Ross Stein, a well-known geophysicist with the US Geological Survey in California has studies how earthquakes interact by the transfer of stress, and in one of his videos he beautiful explains this principle. (Check on internet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bg4kSIgn67I.)  I would recommend all teachers, builders and any other stake holder to watch this video for more information. It would be ideal to translate it into Kashmiri language so that a wide circulation of right information is achieved. And with the aim that this information will reach to the maximum number of people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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