The Delhi High Court on Tuesday (June 9) asked the AAP government and civic authorities to file affidavits explaining how well prepared they are if a major tremor hits the city and how early can the plans be implemented.
The court’s direction comes in the wake of several minor earthquakes hitting areas in and around the national capital in since April.
A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rajnish Bhatnagar asked the Delhi government, the three municipal corporations, cantonment board, DDA and New Delhi Municipal Council to file affidavits explaining steps taken or proposed to be taken to ensure safety of people in the event of a major earthquake.
The bench gave the Delhi government and the civic authorities one week to file their affidavits and listed the matter for hearing on June 15.
The court also directed the authorities to make the public aware about the action plan in place, if any, for their safety in the event of a major tremor in Delhi.
A detailed order of the court is awaited.
The order came on a application moved by advocates Arpit Bhargava and D.K. Sharma claiming that the authorities and Delhi government have not done anything despite several directions by the court to develop an action plan.
In their application, they have sought directions to the Delhi government and civic bodies to put in place an action plan in a time bound manner.
The application was filed in Bhargava’s main petition filed in 2015 claiming that the seismic stability of buildings in Delhi was poor and in case of a major earthquake there could be large number of casualties.
The petition is still pending before the high court which from time to time has directed the Delhi government and civic authorities to develop an action plan.
In the application, Bhargava has contended that around 11 earthquakes have struck Delhi since April 12 and according to experts a big one was imminent which is why he has moved the court now for urgent directions.
On Monday (June 8), a low intensity earthquake of magnitude 2.1 on the Richter scale hit Gurugram in Haryana.
The National Center for Seismology said that the earthquake struck at a depth of 18 km in Gurugram, Haryana at 1300 hours. No casualty was reported after the incident.
On May 29, Haryana had witnessed twin earthquakes and tremors were felt in the national capital too. The first quake of 4.5 magnitude was recorded in Rohtak, while the second one struck moments later at around 10 pm.
On May 28, Haryana’s Faridabad district was the epicentre of the 2.5 magnitude earthquake. The national capital too witnessed a mild earthquake of 4.1 magnitude – the tenth one in the span of one and a half months, top geologists of India have warned a powerful earthquake may strike Delhi in the near future.
“We cannot predict time, place or exact scale, but do believe that there is a consistent seismic activity going around in the NCR region and can trigger in a major earthquake in Delhi,” said Dr. Kalachand Sain, Chief of Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, a premier autonomous institute, run under Union Ministry of Science and Technology told IANS.
Adding that Delhi falls under high-risk seismic zones and the areas around it are witnessing a rapid growth of high rise private buildings, experts said that many of the buildings do not adhere to the mandatory Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) guidelines.
Professor Chandon Ghose of IIT-Jammu, an expert on earthquake engineering while answering the question on what happens if an earthquake of magnitude 5.5 or 6.0 hits the NCR, said if high-intensity earthquakes hit the Delhi-NCR area the impact would be very serious.
“At Richter scale 6.0, the effect of the earthquake in Delhi would be devastating. Many buildings would be razed to dust,” he said.
Meanwhile, on May 15, a 2.2 magnitude earthquake hit Delhi and surrounding areas.
In December last year, tremors were felt across north India, including New Delhi and the national capital region, after a 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan.
“Earthquake of magnitude 6.3 struck the Hindu Kush region in Afghanistan,” the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said. The earthquake struck at 5.09 pm with its epicenter 250 km from Afghanistan capital Kabul, reports said.
(With inputs from agencies)