Recent earthquake in hills of Sikkim has claimed many lives and left thousands homeless and shattered. Tragedy of this country is after every tragedy, VIP’s make a beeline to have aerial view of the damages and interacting with few sufferers and announcing negligible ex-gratia relief amount, which seldom reach all the victims. After this exercise and routine statement is made that in future remedial measures will be taken and then the case is shut till next tragedy. Be it case of earthquake, floods or bomb blasts – no Remedial action is ever taken.
In the case of earthquakes – although it is natural phenomenon and nothing much can be done but precautions can be taken so that there is minimum damages to the building in the event of tremors of high magnitude. Our building laws are archaic and should be amended and strict provisions like earth quake resistant clause should be incorporated in them. It should be mandatory that all buildings should be earthquake resistant and only certified structural engineers should certify a building plan. This clause should be complied strictly and municipal authorities should also ensure that all buildings should be constructed in permissible heights and if any building digresses from the sanctioned plan the same should be demolished. If the concerned persons of municipal authorities turn blind eye to illegal constructions then onus should be on them to pay heavy penalties and they should be relieved of their jobs as they are putting lots of human lives to risk.
We should learn lessons from countries like Japan and a small country like Chile where building laws are very strict as these countries are prone to earthquakes. These countries have ensured that majority of their buildings are earthquake resistant and withstand tremors of up-to 9.0 degree on Richter scale! In the event of earthquakes in these countries, minimal damage occurs to its buildings.
On the contrary, in India, majority of the builders do not care about earth quake resistant technology and lot of illegal constructions are mushrooming in all parts of the country including in hilly areas. For instance, 98% of buildings in Shimla are unsafe for earthquake as admitted by its Urban development minister. Just imagine what will happen in Shimla if earthquake at richter scale of 7.0 hit it. Same is the case of other cities. As expert geogologists have opined that tremors of great magnitude are over due in north India- the government should treat it as a wake up call and should take remedial steps on war footing before it is too late.
Similarly, large parts of India, especially Orissa, UP, Bihar and Assam are flooded every year and billion of Rupees is spent on relief operations and majority of which goes to personal coffers of our ministers, the governments of these states should spend money to build dams and adopt other modern technologies so that its people do not have to face furies of floods every year which has become a yearly routine. We require strong leadership at the state and central levels who could address the problems in professional manner and central minister of water resources should be man/woman of vision, who could implement advanced and proven technologies to minimise the natural catastrophe damages.