Guwahati, Monday, January 18, 2010
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EDITORIAL

Seismic activity
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As far as seismic activities is concerned the year 2009 cannot exactly be termed as a good one for the North East. Statistical data computed during the year gone by indicate that seismic activity was increasing in the region. The North East was rocked by an earthquake on an average of every 10 days. According to records made available by the Central Seismological Observatory in Shillong 34 quakes of light and moderate intensity jolted the region with the one on September 21 last year being the biggest in the last 20 years with the magnitude of 6.2. Seismic activity has always been high in the North East. Mild to moderate quakes rock the region off and on. The region had witnessed 26 earthquakes each during 2008 and 2007 while it was 23 in 2006. With the region lying in a high seismic risk belt and being vulnerable to big quakes makes it all the more important to take this natural phenomenon into consideration before undertaking any developmental activities.

Though no one can accurately predict an earthquake adequate precaution holds the key to mitigate its destruction to some extent. With earthquakes being a reality in the region, the only way out is to learn to live with it. It’s an irony that development and destruction are often co-related in any earthquake prone area. The US –based GeoHazards International in a report had warned that a magnitude of 8.3 earthquake striking Shillong might kill 60 times as many people killed during a similar size quake which claimed 1,542 lives in1897. The reason behind it is quite obvious. The single-story bamboo and wood houses have been replaced with multistoried concrete constructions on the steep slopes. The population too has gone up. To ensure that the wheels of development are not hindered in the region due to earthquake threat, strategies need to be formulated in this direction. The constructions in the region should strictly adhere to the building norms laid down by the engineers. The condition of the existing constructions needs to be evaluated. The lanes and by -lanes should be made wide enough to ensure that relief and rescue operations are not hindered. The authorities need to make the people aware about the precautions they should take to minimize the loss on the event of an earthquake. Proper precautions and adequate mitigation strategy is the only way out to cope with the destructive force of nature.