By Arun Bapat
A moderate 5.8 magnitude earthquake hit Uttarakhand on the night of February 6. As usual, there was the news rush — breaking news, specialists’ comments and the like. But the earthquake news was somewhat eclipsed by the current charged election environment.
An earthquake’s effects are all-pervasive and every sector needs to account for it. Earthquake mitigation efforts during the post-seismic period require large amounts of fincial aid. However, in most of the states, the disaster magement offices are normally headed by the Revenue Secretary.
India has two types of disaster magement offices. There is the tiol Disaster Magement Authority (NDMA) and, at state level, the State Disaster Magement Authority (SDMA). The state agencies follow the directives, instructions and rules of the NDMA. Some of the praise-worthy and creditable work by NDMA is rescue and evacuation in Japan after the Fukoshima earthquake and tsumi of March 2011. Similar were the efforts after the December 26, 2004, earthquake and tsumi in the Indian Ocean and after the heavy downpour in Cheni in December 2015.
Most of the mitigation efforts are for the post-seismic (or post-disaster) period. The principal aim has been focused on engineering retrofitting and strengthening of weak structures. This involves some action that may be difficult to implement due to administrative and fincial reasons.
For retrofitting a house the funds required are a big problem. Very few owners are ready to invest an additiol amount of about five percent of the total cost to ensure seismic safety in new constructions. Similar is the case of re-strengthening. Moreover, these are long-term efforts and so the significance is not immediately realised by the common man.
As far as seismic disaster mitigation and magement are concerned, there are no time-bound or mission-bound programmes or accountability for disaster mitigation. It is necessary for disaster administration to remain away from palliative solutions. These are of no use. The disaster after the cloudburst at Badrith in Uttarakhand in June 2013 had clearly shown the heavy damage to constructions in river beds. But still, this continues.
It is, therefore, necessary to find an altertive which could give a reliable indication of an incoming earthquake in sufficient time so that the administration could gear up the entire mitigating machinery for action. It is a fact that till now, no scientist has come out with a mechanism whereby the location, magnitude and time of earthquake could be predicted.
There is, however, a silver lining. The seismo-electromagnetic effect (SME Effect) definitely provides a viable solution. It changes the post-seismic mitigation approach to pre-seismic mitigation. With the help of the SME it is possible to predict the occurrence of a destructive earthquake up to 10 hours in advance.
How does this work? Before an earthquake occurs the temperature at the hypocenter (the underground point below the epicenter) rises. This reduces the earth’s magnetic field and adversely affects electromagnetic communication. About 10 hours before an earthquake, the reception on television sets witness audio, visual and spectral disturbances. The frequency of disturbances goes on increasing till the earthquake strikes.
This was observed and noted for the first time by several people in Maharashtra prior to the 1993 Latur earthquake. It was observed in Bhuj before the destructive quake of January 26, 2001. (IANS)