BY HAROON RASHID BHAT
The Bureau of Indian Standards has classified regions in India into four seismic zones based on historical seismic data available to them. These are zones 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th. Among these Zones, some part of the Jammu and Kashmir falls in zone four, and the remaining part falls in zone five. According to the present classification, zone four and five expects the highest level of seismicity. If we try to understand this statement is a common way we can say that this region is more susceptible to the earthquake.
When we turn the pages of history with special reference to Jammu, and Kashmir and to study the history of earthquakes that occurred in this part of the world from time to time, we came to know that this land has witnessed moderate and large earthquakes in the past such as in 1828, 1885, 1929 and the recent being on 8th Oct 2005 (Mw 7.6). At least 1,350 people were killed, 6,266 injured and 32,335 buildings collapsed in various cities in the Kashmir region that included Anantnag and Srinagar.
Keeping the seismicity of this region in view, Vice-Chancellor of University of Kashmir Prof. Talat Ahamad advised the inhabitants of this region to adopt wooden structures instead of big concrete houses to minimize the damage that usually happen during the earthquake. Perhaps, the expert has deliberately use Wood as the replacement against the other building materials keeping in view the following facts- firstly the timber as a material itself is suited to absorb seismic forces. Therefore, the wooden structures have a well-deserved reputation for high resistance to earthquakes. It is an organic material and its cellulose fiber makes them highly effective to undertake tensile stresses. Secondly, it is a locally available material. Now, being the residents of this land, we shouldn’t turn a deaf ear to this expert opinion rather we should take it as a serious warning.
There is no twofold opinion about the fact that the abundant use of timber put a heavy burden on our forests which have already been reduced due to human interferences. Now the question is how can over this problem? Yes, there is a solution to every problem but it required proper planning, innovative research, awareness, and execution.
Use of Innovative Scientific Technology: To make the required quantity of timber available, there is a need to explore the new varieties of trees used for construction purposes besides our common traditional varieties like Deodar, Popular, etc. keeping the following parameters under consideration- the rapid growth of saplings, sustainability, and cost-effectiveness. Institutions like SKAUST- Shalimar, and Jammu can play a pivotal role in this direction.
Role of Forestry Department and its allied wings: – The department of forestry and its allied wings has
to play a miscellaneous role, they can arrange land for experimentation, cultivation and at the same time they have to ensure its preservation and availability to the general public.
Awareness among the masses: The first step to make any program useful, there is a need to spread public awareness among the general public. In this connection, the department of school education, our universities, AIR-Srinagar, DDK- Srinagar, Disastrous Management- Jammu, and Kashmir can play a significant role.
Yes, it is an admitted fact that such changes never happen within days, it is a time-consuming process. First, we have to change the mindset of the people, develop interest among them, and to motivate them to adopt such a lifestyle. Constructing wooden structures is not something new to our culture, our ancestries without having any scientific knowledge erected wooden structures in the past keeping the geographical conditions and topography of the Kashmir valley in view. The destination is far but we have to start from somewhere.
Haroon Rashid Bhat is a teacher by Profession and can be reached at email@example.com