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Experts set to train Kashmir students in disaster management

Seven years after a deadly earthquake hit Kashmir, a galaxy of earth scientists will be training several thousand students and scholars to prepare them for an informed response should a similar quake jolt the valley. Ashiq Hussain reports.

india Updated: Oct 11, 2012 19:16 IST
Ashiq Hussain

Seven years after a deadly earthquake hit Kashmir, a galaxy of earth scientists will be training several thousand students and scholars to prepare them for an informed response should a similar quake jolt the valley.

The training will be given to over 2000 students and scholars from various schools and colleges of the valley at a three day workshop at Kashmir University in collaboration with National Disaster Management Agency(NDMA) of New Delhi and the Ministry of Earth Sciences, government of India from October 13.

Falling on the vulnerable seismic-zone-5, the aim of the workshop is to build a safer and disaster resilient state and reduce the risk of loss to life and property in the aftermath of an earthquake.

"The Workshop is in continuation of our efforts to understand the mechanism of earthquakes in Kashmir Himalayas and to suggest measures for reducing the risk of people to various disasters," said vice chancellor of Kashmir University, Talat Ahmad who is also a geologist.

Kashmir has come a long way after a deadly earthquake of 7.9-intensity on Richter scale hit the common Himalayan region of India and Pakistan on October 08, seven years ago .

Around 1400 people were killed in Uri on this side of Kashmir in the quake, while around 75000 people lost their lives in Kashmir on Pakistan side and parts of Pakistan. Though the damage was not massive in this part as compared to Pakistan, the tremors were enough to awaken people and take note.

Since then Kashmir's disaster management authorities have trained hundreds of engineers, architects and masons to help people construct earthquake resistant houses. Laws have been modified to urge people for building structures in conformity with disaster mitigation plan of the state.

The Workshop in the varsity is being attended by a galaxy of eminent earth scientists and seismologists from various institutes of the country who are scheduled to present a number of technical sessions and keynote speeches on various aspects of the earthquakes.

"The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) shall make a live demonstration of the search and rescue operation during any disaster scheduled in campus which shall be watched by more than 2000 participants from various schools, academia, government agencies and the civil society," an official of the university informed.

Professor Shakil A Romshoo, Head Department of Earth Science said that the workshop "shall build the capacity of various segments of the society to build a safer and disaster resilient state".

"In light of the high vulnerability of the state to earthquakes, the Workshop shall deliberate on scientific findings and suggest a roadmap for reducing the risk of the people and infrastructure, especially in the urban centres of the state, to the disaster," Romshoo said.

Kashmir University is already involved in a project aimed at 'seismic microzonisation' of the valley which involves mapping the place to discretely predict the possibility of earthquakes in its sub zones. Besides helping research scholars, the plan could be of major help for the formation of a localized disaster mitigation plan by the state.

"The Workshop is targeted at all sections of the society including school children and shall go a long way in protecting the life and property of the people of this disaster vulnerable state," said Prof. Nilofer Khan, dean student's welfare.

Last year, Roger Bilham -- a professor of geological sciences in the University of Colorado -- triggered fears across the state after warning of a 'possible earthquake of magnitude 9 which could unleash a nightmare scenario in the valley'.

The valley, which is the part of bigger Himalayan zone, falls on the restive fault line of Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates. Most of the valley is vulnerable to earthquakes of very high intensity (seismic zone four and five) with the risk of extensive damage to life and property.