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Earthquakes in Delhi-NCR: Big one is coming, warn experts after 10 low-intensity quakes

BusinessToday.In     June 5, 2020

Experts have warned that a high-intensity earthquake could occur in Delhi in the "coming days". However, they added that there is no way of telling when that could be. Ten low to moderate earthquakes have occurred over the last one-and-a-half months, leading to concerns of an impending, high-intensity earthquake.

Dr Kalachand Sain, Chief of Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, said that while one cannot predict the time, place or exact scale, the constant seismic activity around Delhi-NCR indicates that a major earthquake could occur in the national capital, as reported by news agency IANS. Dr Sain's concerns are reiterated by the US Geological Survey that says that multiple small tremors and consecutive earthquakes can be a precursor to an earthquake of high magnitude. However, there is no guarantee that this would definitely happen.

Dr Sain said that one of the reasons for the increasing numbers of tremors hitting Delhi is that the local fault system is quite active. "Such fault systems around Delhi are capable of producing an earthquake of magnitude around 6 to 6.5," he said.

Delhi sits in a highly seismic region. Professor Chandon Ghose of the Indian Institute of Technology, Jammu told the news agency that a stronger earthquake could be cataclysmic to the region that is residence to tens of millions of people.

He points out that even though Delhi-NCR falls under seismic zone-4, most of the builders do not conform to the norms of Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). "There is a nexus between architects and builders which somehow compromise the stringent earthquake (resistant) codes. So, on any given day, if an earthquake of higher magnitude strikes here, the consequences would be grievous," he said. Ghose underscored that if a Richter Scale 6.0 earthquake occurs in Delhi, many buildings would be razed to dust.

Ghose compared the situation to Japan but pointed out that the country "religiously" follows construction codes. "Their quality of construction can resist tremors measured at 7 or even 8," he said.

Delhi is also in close proximity to the Himalayas where several high-intensity earthquakes have occurred, some more than Richter Scale 8.0. Study reveals that there is possibility of a few major tremors in Himalayan region that can severely affect Delhi-NCR as well.

The National Centre for Seismology recorded 10 earthquakes between April 12 and May 29.

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