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JK on shaky ground, earthquakes jolt valley 135 times since 2009

Srinagar, Apr 23: At least 135 earthquakes have hit Kashmir Valley in the last decade, with experts recommending earthquake-resistant constructions.
Official figures from the Meteorological Department reveal that the earthquakes have the region since 2009.
The Kashmir felt tremors nine times in 2009, six times in 2010, seven times in 2011, 11 times in 2012, 25 times in 2013, and 19 times in 2014.
In 2015, the valley recorded the highest number of earthquakes in a calendar year—27 times in total, 19 which were significant while eight measured less than 4 on the Righter scale.
The same year, two powerful quakes were recorded including the one measuring 7.5 on Richter scale on October 26. The quake consumed three lives and caused damage to scores of houses across the state.
In December that year, tremors jolted J&K thrice including a power earthquake on 26 midnight of the month measuring 7 on the Richter scale in which two people died due to heart attack.
In 2016, Kashmir was jolted nine times with the intensity ranging from 4 to 6 on the Richter scale.
However, there was increase in 2017 when Kashmir witnessed earthquakes 19 times. In 2018, three earth quakes have been recorded so far.
Kashmir Valley is vulnerable to disasters. At least 13 out of India’s 100 districts have been identified as ‘multi-hazard districts’.
According to the Indian Meteorological Department, most parts of Kashmir covering the districts of Srinagar, Ganderbal, Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipora, Budgam, Anantnag and parts of Jammu region, Doda, Ramban, Kishtwar come under Seismic Zone V and are prone to earthquakes. While the rest part of the state comes under Seismic Zone IV.
Director Meteorological Department, Sonam Lotus, said the frequency of the quakes suggests that the people as well as the government should be “well prepared” to deal with such incidents.
“We need to take some measures like building earthquake-resistant constructions,” Lotus said.
Professor Shakil Ahmad Romshoo, who teaches Earth Sciences at Kashmir University, said the people should be well prepared for earthquakes.
“We can’t predict the timing, magnitude and place of an earthquake, but we should be well prepared in dealing with any such natural disaster,” Romshoo said.
An official document of the district development commissioner office Srinagar says that ‘disaster prone and vulnerable’ areas in Srinagar 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.
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.
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. However, the official said that government has done “little” to deal with disasters.
When asked Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad Khan what measures were taken to deal with disasters, he said that he was in a meeting.