The next time tremors hit Gurgaon, residents will be warned within 30 seconds of the primary seismic wave, giving them precious time to seek safety.
A primary seismic wave is one that travels faster than normal waves under the earth and is sensed by animals and birds but beyond human sensory perceptions. A secondary seismic wave is stronger and shakes the surface and is sensed by humans too. Often, a secondary wave causes huge damage.
Dotted with over 1,100 highrises, the city will soon have a hi-tech ‘early earthquake warning and security system’ that raises the alarm and also shuts down lifts, gas supply, electricity, and activate other security systems connected with it.
The second of its kind in Haryana, the new system will help safeguard the city which sits on a tectonic fault line – a geographical detail that could see Bhuj-like devastation in Gurgaon. The devastating quake that hit Gujarat in 2001 killed more than 13,000 people and damaged lakhs of homes.
The recent Nepal earthquake that was felt across the northern India didn’t cause any damage in the city, but was a rude reminder of the region’s vulnerability.
“We hope to get the system installed this month. There was a need for such a system in Gurgaon as the region (National Capital Region) falls in seismic zone IV making it highly vulnerable to earthquakes,” Haryana Institute of Public Administration (HIPA) director general SP Gupta said.
Costing about Rs 40 lakh, the ‘onsite system’ will be installed by HIPA on its premises in Sector 18 and will have an indoor alarm system. It will later be upgraded to a public siren system that sends alarms up to a radius of 6km and caution people within 30 seconds of primary seismic waves.
The new secretariat in Chandigarh is the other place in the state that is equipped with the warning and security system.
The last time Gurgaon felt a strong quake was in August 1960. A village at the time, Gurgaon didn’t suffer much damage from the 6.0 magnitude quake. But more than five decades of development has seen the place grow into a hub with many major corporate offices located in multistoreyed buildings.
Gupta said the warning system could help in quick rescue and better coordination during an earthquake as the secondary seismic waves are the ones that cause damage on the surface.
“Warning time depends on location of quake epicentre. The best response time of the system has been 30 seconds after the first primary wave,” said Abhay Kumar Shrivastava, head of HIPA’s centre for disaster management. He said the system was tuned to sense tremors of a magnitude of 6 and more on the Richter Scale but HIPA got it adjusted to 5.
The system is a joint venture of German company Secty Electronics GmbH and Terra Techcom Private Limited. Haryana government got the system tested in March at CSIR-Structural engineering and research centre, Chennai, a government official said.
Bhabha Atomic Research Centre too showed interest in the system earlier this month. A number of global laboratories, including GFZ-Potsdam, Sharif University of Technology in Iran, TUV Engineering, Germany, and National Observatory of Athens, Greece, have successfully tested the system.
The system is also being used to monitor the gas pipeline network in Basel, Switzerland.