Panjab University, in collaboration with IIT-Hyderabad, IIT-Kanpur and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), has initiated a study to assess how earthquake-proof buildings in the city are.
The study is part of an Indo-Japanese project on disaster mitigation and management. As part of the project, an Indian team led by senior seismologist Dr RK Chadha and Japanese experts led by Prof Kazuki Koketsu visited the geology department of Panjab University on Wednesday and installed nine vibration sensors to collect data on how the building would respond in case of an earthquake.
These instruments will also be fitted in six other buildings, both government and private, in the city. The sensors, developed in Japan, will be connected to servers based in IIT-Hyderabad and Japan for gathering information.
Explaining the need for carrying out the study in the city, Dr RK Chadha said, "Chandigarh falls in seismic zone IV and is close to the Himalayas, where earthquakes of high magnitude are common. There is an urgent need for assessment of risk. You can't stop earthquakes, but you can certainly minimise the damage."
Dr JN Malik of IIT-Kanpur, who is studying earthquake patterns in the Himalayan region, said there were active faults in Chandigarh, one of which was named as "Chandigarh Fault" in year 2003 by researchers.
Active fault is an area which is likely to receive an earthquake sometime in the future. The northern part of the city is more prone to earthquakes.
Dr Malik said that though the city is well-planned, seismic risks were not taken into consideration while planning the city. "But the good part is that there are no high-rise buildings in and around the city," he said.
Endorsing Dr Malik's view, Prof Kazuki Koketsu said buildings in the city were not capable of withstanding earthquakes of high magnitudes. "There is a need to take corrective measures to make the buildings safer," said Prof Koketsu.
The researchers will collect data for the next three years and, based on the findings, a report will be submitted to the UT administration.
Dr Pardeep Raman Sharma of IIT-Hyderabad said the data would be of great help in framing guidelines for the construction of new buildings and recommending corrective measures for the existing buildings.
Finance-cum-education secretary VK Singh held a meeting with the team members associated with the project and requested them to prepare a draft so that the matter could be taken up with the higher authorities.