Experts at the Indian Home Ministry’s National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) have warned the government about an earthquake of 8.2 magnitude on the Richter scale that might hit the northern part of the country in near future.

Image courtesy: The Times of India
Image courtesy: The Times of India

The disaster management wing of the government has said that the entire North India will be at risk, if some catastrophic quakes hit the Himalayas. Experts made the prediction after analysing recent earthquakes that hit northern Indian province of Sikkim (2011), neighbouring Nepal (May 2015) and north-eastern province of Manipur (January 2016). According to the scientists, a tectonic shift has affected the plates in the region, triggering tremors. Experts believe that there is a possibility of multiple earthquakes taking place in the region in the coming months.

Global seismology experts, too, have backed the prediction, saying that “at least four earthquakes, greater than 8.0 magnitude, might hit the Himalayan regions”. Roger Bilham, the seismologist of University of Colorado, is of the opinion that the strain accumulated during the centuries provokes more catastrophic mega earthquakes in northern India.

NIDM Director Santosh Kumar explained that the interconnected plates across Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and India pose a bigger danger and the disaster would be much bigger. “The collision between the Himalayan plate in the north and the Indo-Burmese plate in the east and the risk created as a result is the highest at this moment,” he told the press. The NIDM chief further explained that the South Asian country is divided into four seismic zones. While the most active Zone V comprises of the entire north-eastern region, some parts of north Bihar, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Gujarat and Andaman & Nicobar Islands, the national capital comes under Zone IV – one of the high-risk areas.

Meanwhile, Kumar assured Indians that the Centre has started taking measures to sensitise the government for adopting a common building code in the northern part of the country. Immediately after receiving the warning, policy-makers from 11 Indian hill states held a meeting at the north-eastern city of Itanagar and decided to develop a common building code for mountains.

Earlier, the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) acknowledged India’s role (in Asia) as a disaster risk reduction champion, saying that although the country is a valuable partner of UN, it should “enhance preparedness for effective response to earthquakes”.

Koushik Das, based in the Indian capital of New Delhi, is a senior news editor with more than 15 years of experience. He also runs a blog - Boundless Ocean of Politics. E-Mail: [email protected]