J&K vulnerable to disasters: Studies, experts call for preventive measures

SRINAGAR, SEP 25: With Kashmir being prone to disasters, research studies and experts have called for long-term measures to prevent future disasters.
Jammu and Kashmir is vulnerable to natural disasters like avalanches, earthquakes, and floods.
According to a recent report of National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) on the 2014 flood in Kashmir, there is an urgent need for corrective measures to prevent future disasters.
“Haphazard developmental activities, such as unregulated mining operations, construction projects, and poorly-planned urbanization have taken place without adequate consideration for environmental safety and sustainability. These activities have disrupted natural drainage patterns and weakened flood control infrastructure,” the report says, a copy of which lies with Morning Kashmir.
It says the current construction boom, driven by uncontrolled extraction of sand, gravel, and boulders from riverbeds, heightens the vulnerability of rivers to flash floods.
It called for long-term measures, including the construction of alternative flood channels, the enhancement of urban drainage systems, the restoration of natural drainage and wetlands, and improved city planning that incorporates flood and earthquake vulnerability considerations.
Similarly, most parts of Jammu and Kashmir come under Seismic Zone IV and V and are vulnerable to earthquakes. Experts give varied reasons for earthquakes in J&K including various faults run through this part of the Himalayas and exploding of gases.
According to official figures of the Indian Meteorological Department, for the last five years, around 150 earthquakes hit J&K mostly in a magnitude of 3-5.
Experts say this part of the Himalayas has been facing frequent earthquakes due to active seismic activity.
“Studies indicate that a high magnitude earthquake could occur in Kashmir Himalayas but we can’t predict the timing. Since we have a fragile ecosystem we need adequate safeguards to minimize the damages,” said Junaid Ahmad, a research scholar.
Elaborating further he stresses enforcing building codes. “We have to build earthquake-resistant structures. Building codes need to be followed. We need trained engineers and masons to construct earthquake-resistant structures including houses, buildings, flyovers, or bridges,” he said.

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