Gurgaon is vulnerable to several kinds of natural and manmade disasters.
If I were to list them, which we must attend to on priority basis, I would put earthquakes on the top followed by fire, industrial accidents and terrorism.
The city falls in the second highest risk zone, which is seismic zone IV that corresponds to MSK intensity VIII.
There are a number of faults, which straddle this area. The closest being Sohna fault, Aravali junction and Alluvium near Delhi. The damage done by earthquakes depends upon various parameters like intensity, duration and frequency of ground motion after the earthquake, soil condition and type of building construction.
It also depends on sociological factors such as population density and community preparedness to face the disaster, and also the time of the day.
A scenario, replicating Latur earthquake with epicenter somewhere in the vicinity will badly affect Old Gurgaon, and urban villages which have more than 90% of non-engineered burnt brick dwellings, which cannot withstand the effects of a moderate earthquake.
In New Gurgaon, the office buildings, which are made of steel frames, will be safe, but residential high-rise buildings will be severely shaken. Most of these are open ground-storey buildings because of the requirement of parking space; this makes these buildings highly susceptible to structural failure.
However, with certain modifications this problem can be overcome. National Disaster Management Authority is coming out with guidelines on the subject and these will soon be in the public domain.
In case an earthquake hits Gurgaon that has many industries which store large quantities of inflammable material and toxic gases, there are chances of gas leaks and industrial fires.
Congested areas like Udyog Vihar will be worst affected.
The industry and corporate houses will be also affected. Contingency plans need to be readied before disaster strikes.
The writer is a retired army major general and senior specialist (policies and plans) at the National Disaster Management Authority.