Please Take immediate steps towards Earthquake Safety and Preparedness in India

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We appeal to the Prime Minister of India

1.    To take initiatives to enhance Public awareness about ‘Do’s and Don’ts Before, During and After earthquake’ through mass communications, media houses and by all means.

2.    Prime minister being the Chairman of National Disaster Management Authority, kindly take immediate measures to execute solid action plans at ground level based on the state of art knowledge of earthquake hazards and safety measures we have at present.

  

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Open letter to Prime Minister as a background of this petition

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Dear Shri Narendra Modi,

First of all, let us express our gratitude for all your visionary initiatives and projects for the progress of our Nation. We would like to draw your kind attention to a very serious issue being neglected by policy makers.

As you might be aware, more than 50% of Indian land (densely populated), is vulnerable to earthquakes where an earthquake may happen anytime. We have seen huge loss of life and property in our country due to earthquakes in last few decades itself. The hazard scenario is increasing with rising population density and upcoming of not so well planned infrastructures. The more we think about it, our nerves gets strained and we lose our sleep worrying about massive loss of life and property that can happen in India within next 50 or 100 years if we do not act now. Recently we have seen how Nepal suffered. The efforts of Indian Govt in reaching out to support Nepal was indeed a great gesture, but it was all about post disaster management. We wake up only when a disaster happens and alertness diminishes in next few months or years. A little vigilance and preparedness BEFORE the earthquake can save many lives and reduce the damage to a great extent.  It is high time we focus on J & K, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Delhi, UP, Bihar and North Eastern states for awaiting quakes in near future where a huge population is residing.

Earthquakes never kill people but ignorance of people and poorly designed buildings do. There are many measures Govt and people can take to prepare themselves before an earthquake which would reduce the risk to a great extent and helps avoid the panic. Many risk-reducing activities require people-power, not financial resources. It is of great concern that earthquake preparedness awareness has not been a part of public consciousness even in the most vulnerable regions of India. Usually the aftermaths of a disaster bring solidarity among the members of the community. There is a need to bring this spirit of togetherness and alertness well before a disaster so that a community can be prepared well to face the disaster and thus reduce the loss of life and properties. And while every community has numerous short-term priorities, it is important to keep in mind that disasters like earthquakes destroy all progress a community has been making in every area. 

After deeply analyzing the earthquake data of India and adjoining areas from 250 BC to 2010 AD using various probabilistic models, our studies at IISc has clearly shown that Himalayan belt especially Nepal Bihar border, Kashmir, North East India and Andaman are highly hazardous for next 50 years. This has been published in reputed journals and we have communicated our concerns and suggestions to various Govt authorities. 

Through various correspondence and RTIs we filed, it has been noticed that not much solid actions have been taken for earthquake preparedness by the concerned authorities in India. Immediate measures must be taken to invoke alertness and solidarity among the public in earthquake prone areas and to empower the community to prepare themselves to face and manage the aftermath of an earthquake, which needs a strong political will. It needs a long term vision for the alertness to get transmitted through generations making India a well prepared country to reduce the fatalities and loss due to future earthquakes.

We have below requests to you for immediate action.

 a)   Please dedicate one episode of Mann ki baat in creating alertness towards earthquake safety measures.

b)   It is requested that the Prime Minister’s office take lead in the awareness campaign for Earthquake Safety and Preparedness like it was done for ‘Swachh Bharat’ campaign

c)   Encourage Panchayaths in earthquake prone districts to hold Gramasabhas to discuss and prepare the village to face earthquake.

d)   Please strengthen state disaster management authorities of J & K, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Delhi, UP, Bihar and North Eastern states for immediate actions on urgent basis, in view of high seismic threat prevailing in these states.

It is buildings that kill people not quakes as such. If we can’t repair the entire infrastructure, at least schools, hospitals etc in vulnerable regions should be retrofitted on urgent basis. Earthquake safety aspects should be incorporated in the building by-laws and it should be made mandatory. Construction activities in rural areas must be given special attention. Educational institutions should be made aware of earthquake safety and mock drills must be conducted in schools situated in vulnerable regions. 

Nepal faced problems of accessibility and lack of shelters to camp. Open playgrounds or indoor stadiums can be built in hazardous areas to provide shelter for people when a disaster happens and can be used for other functions during safe periods. Also small villages can have open playgrounds which can be used for dual purpose.

Looking forward towards earthquake safe India…

Thanking You

Sincerely

Prof T G Sitharam

Dr Sreevalsa Kolathayar

 



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