Do you have an action plan if major earthquake hits Delhi, HC asks AAP govt

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In the wake of several minor earthquakes in and around the national capital in since April, the Delhi High Court asked the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government and civic authorities on Tuesday how well prepared they are if a major tremor hits the city.

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.

The national capital on Monday was jolted by an earthquake with an epicentre at Gurugram, Haryana. This is the thirteenth time in two months that Delhi has been hit by a quake.

"An earthquake with a magnitude of 2.1 on the Richter Scale hit 13km WNW of Gurugram, Haryana at 1 pm today," said National Centre for Seismology.

Tremors were felt across Delhi and in Noida as well.

On June 7, an earthquake measuring 1.3 on the Richter Scale had hit 23 km south of southeast of Rohtak district in Haryana. On June 3, a 3.2 magnitude earthquake had hit Delhi, Faridabad, Gurugram. Two mild earthquakes of magnitude 4.6 and 2.9 in Rohtak on May 29, PTI reported.

On May 15, Delhi was hit by an earthquake with a magnitude of 2.2 on the Richter Scale hit 13km NW of New Delhi and earlier on May 10, a medium-intensity earthquake of magnitude 3.4 had hit the capital with an epicentre near northeast Delhi's Wazirpur area.

The same area was also the epicentres of the earthquakes of magnitudes 3.5 and 2.7 respectively which hit on April 12 and April 13.

With nearly 13 earthquakes jolting the Delhi-NCR region in two months, there have been apprehensions if it is a prelude to a big temblor, but experts say there is nothing unusual in this seismic activity. Though it is not possible to predict quakes, a proper disaster management plan should be in place to deal with any emergency, they stressed.

The Delhi-NCR region is very peculiar with regard to seismic activities. It has several faultlines that generate earthquakes, but it also feels the impact of quakes that are epicentred as far as the Hindukush mountains in Afghanistan and even in Nepal.

Delhi witnessed a major earthquake in 1720 measuring 6.5. The last major quake in the region was near Bulandshahr in 1956 measuring 6.7, according to A K Shukla, who was the head of the Centre for Semiology and Earthquake Risk Evaluation Centre of the India Meteorology Department which was later brought under the newly formed National Centre for Seismology.

Shukla said the recent quakes are not an unusual phenomenon as the Delhi NCR region has several faultlines like the Mahendragarh-Dehradun faultine. There are faults at Mathura, Moradabad and Sohna.

Earthquakes are not new to the Delhi-NCR because of its several faultlines. If one observes the earthquake pattern since last two and half months, the highest magnitude was 4.5 recorded on May 29 (Rohtak). Since then it has reduced, he said.

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