Gangtok: November 8, 2011
Sikkim has experienced more than two hundred major and minor earthquakes since the establishment of the seismic station in 1996. This was revealed in a day long workshop on “Seismicity in Sikkim Himalayas: Current Scenario” held at Sikkim Science Center at Marchak.
Professor SK Nath, the Head of Geology and Geophysics of IIT, Kharagpur who has prepared a seismological investigation report after the September 18 quake also discarded the speculations of Hydel Power Projects (HEP) being the main cause of the earthquake and the damages. “It should be understood that there are no direct or indirect relations between the HEP and the earthquake” Prof Nath said. He also said that not
all the zones in Sikkim fall under seismic zone V but many parts of Sikkim also falls under the seismic zone II and III.
Prof Nath added “the rapid urbanization and the unprecedented population growth have compounded the risk of seismic zones” Stressing on the proper urbanization and the building codes Prof Nath said that the Government of Sikkim should make it mandatory to acquire the seismic clearance before going for any kind of constructions.
“The earthquake of September 18 which lasted for 18.2 sec had brought more devastations had the epicenter been somewhere in the urbanized areas” he said. He also stressed on the point that the seismic zonation map is needed to upgrade.
Earlier the Minister of Science and Technology Bhim Dhungel inaugurated the new earthquake monitoring station at the vicinity of the Science Center. “This new station will monitor the seismic hazard and the risk assessment of Darjeeling and Sikkim Himalayas” Prof Nath told the reporters. Minister Dhungel expressed his dissatisfaction on the minimal participation from the various government departments. “The subject is inter related with most of the line departments, it would have been better if the invited department officials would have participated in the workshop” he said. The state government is not behind in framing progressive legislation in this regard but the government needs support from civil society. The government is thinking on the lines of formulating new bye-laws on construction and the Chief Minister has spoken on this issue in many forums but the civil society has not given any views in this regard. He further added that every member of civil society should take the responsibility and not merely pass on the responsibility to the government alone. He further informed that the government is giving a serious thought to frame a suitable constructions by-laws for the construction of new buildings.
The workshop was organized by Sikkim State Council of Science and Technology. AK Srivastava, the Principal Secretary of the Department also made a presentation on the topic.