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Disaster-prone areas to be declared ‘no construction zones’

By Mudassir Kuloo

Srinagar, Apr 09: Geology and Mining Department may declare the areas vulnerable to disasters as ‘no construction zones’.
Kashmir Valley is vulnerable to disasters. At least 13 districts out of 100 districts in India have been identified as ‘multi hazard districts’.
“Majority areas of the Valley, especially Sonawari, Awantipora and Srinagar are prone to floods,” a government report says.
All these areas were worst hit by the 2014 floods.
According to the Indian Meteorological department, most parts of Kashmir, including Srinagar, come under the Seismic Zone V, which are highly prone to earthquakes.
An official document of the district development commissioner office Srinagar says that the areas, which are ‘disaster prone and vulnerable’ in Srinagar, district would be identified so that “residential colonies are raised at safe locations and people living in risk prone areas are rehabilitated elsewhere”.
“Geology and Mining department shall be involved in identification of vulnerable areas. The concerned department would be asked to prepare a geological map, which would delineate areas in district Srinagar that can be exposed to the impact of strong earthquakes and other natural disasters,” the document reads.
“Once Geology Department maps these areas, no construction activity would be allowed in these danger zones,” the document reads.
It says that there has to be a regulatory framework in place, which would discourage construction activity in the areas vulnerable to disasters.
“Once the Geological map of district Srinagar is ready, the tehsil , block officers and even panchayats would be given authority to deal with unplanned construction activity. It shall be made mandatory to seek building permission from the concerned offices,” it reads.
An official posted at Divisional Commissioner Kashmir office said that there are many buildings in the district, which have been constructed without adhering to the norms pertaining to the earthquake resistant construction.
“Such buildings are not safe enough to resist the impact of a severe earth quake. If earthquake resistant technology is used in construction of buildings, such structures can withstand earthquakes up to a certain magnitude,” the official said.
The state cabinet approved the Disaster Management Plan in July 2015, when Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had been chief minister of J&K.
It was prepared by Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) Mumbai. The government had said that it was an effort to reduce the vulnerability to hazards and cope with disasters and natural calamities in a more effective manner. The government had also said the plan was long overdue as there were lessons to be learnt from the devastating floods of 2014 in terms of real-time rescue missions for timely evacuation of people.