On Friday night, Delhi residents felt severe tremors after an earthquake of 6.4 magnitude jolted Nepal. No fatalities or injuries were reported in the capital after the tremors spread across Delhi, Gurugram, Noida, and Bihar.
The epicenter of the tremors was identified by the National Center for Seismology to be in Nepal at 10 km depth. Nepal recorded the earthquake as a 6.4 magnitude one in the Richter scale. The damages of the earthquake in Nepal have been severe.
At least 140 lives were claimed, and hundreds of houses were destroyed in Nepal in the earthquake that happened just minutes before Friday midnight. According to seismology experts, Nepal is situated in one of the most extremely active seismic zones of the world and, thus, is highly vulnerable to destructive earthquakes.
It was the third time in a month that Delhi and the areas around it experienced quake tremors. The consistently occurring earthquakes have brought national attention to Delhi, and experts are discussing the possible reasons for the vulnerability of Delhi.
According to earthquake experts, the Delhi region unfortunately falls in a high-risk seismic zone- IV. The categorization of seismic zones is available as part of the seismic zoning map from the Bureau of Indian Standards. As per the map, seismic zone- IV stands a higher chance of experiencing moderate to high-level earthquakes.
The seismic zoning map explains that the geographical positioning of Delhi is the prime reason why it is included in the high-risk category. Delhi is situated roughly 300 kilometers away from the Himalayan ranges. Himalayan ranges are characterized by constant tectonic activity, which causes frequent tremors, earthquakes, landslides, etc. The proximity of Delhi to the highly unstable Himalayan ranges is the key reason why it is included in the high-risk seismic zone- IV.
Experts also point out further reasons for the high seismic activity in Delhi and its nearby places. While they agree that the proximity of the Himalayan ranges is the top reason, they also point out the spike of high-rise settlements and unauthorized colonies throughout the city.
As per the experts, a good deal of Delhi residents are living in seismic-prone zones. The existence of high-rise constructions across the fault lines of the earthquake-prone zones only adds to the calamity, as per the experts. A significant part of the old Delhi residential buildings are standing on the highly unstable and vulnerable riverbanks.
On the background of constant tremors and other natural calamities, experts point to the possibility of a large-scale earthquake happening in Delhi in the not-so-far future. Considering the densely populated city and the high number of aged infrastructures, a large-scale earthquake can be catastrophic.
Kuldeep Singh Gangar, former CEO of DDMA (Delhi Disaster Management Authority), expresses the need for mock drills in Delhi to reduce the impact of a possible large-scale earthquake in the future. He says, “Mock drills should be a frequent affair to educate the people of Delhi how to act when a disaster knocks on their doors. Disaster special forces should also be in place to combat such emergencies.”