Frequent earthquakes striking Jammu and Kashmir especially the Kashmir region is making disaster management experts worried for Srinagar city, as the authorities have not conducted any seismic assessment study to find structural health of major buildings and residential colonies. Experts said that the city could face a devastating scenario if a high-intensity quake strikes. With disaster management preparations just on papers, illegal constructions are worrisome reminder of misplaced policies of the successive government. Looking at the construction done in the city one can fully understand the peril while passing through the entire Srinagar city. People have constructed two to three-storey buildings without bothering about the strength and quality of the plinth. While the district administration and Municipal Corporation have totally turned their eyes on the happening in the city and making preparations to face any natural calamity, people are also not cooperating with the authorities and show least concern to safety while constructing residential and commercial complexes. “The city itself is a disaster when it comes to construction of residential and commercial buildings. God forbid if big earthquake strikes the city in future, we cannot reach interior places to evacuate victims,” R. K Razdan, a disaster management expert told KNS. He said the administration should provide technical consultancy to people when approving the building plan and simplify the process. “There is need to create a database of vulnerable buildings, especially in old city,”. As per the Municipal Act, the dismantling of buildings which have been declared unsafe by the civic body is a disciplinary and obligatory function of the municipal body, but in Kashmir action has been rarely taken, despite hundreds of such structures dotting the city. Noted geologist Prof GM Bhat said cities and towns across Jammu and Kashmir were vulnerable in case a high-intensity earthquake hit the region. “Government bodies need to come up with specific plans to alter the urban building plans to prevent large-scale devastation,” he said.
2015 Kashmir Despatch