An Earthquake Disaster Risk Index (EDRI), prepared for 50 cities and one district by the International Institute of Information Technology Hyderabad (IIITH) along with National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Ministry of Home Affairs gives an inkling on the issue.

In a first pilot study, the two organisations selected the cities based on population density, housing threat factor and some cities identified by the Union Government. The major area of focus is the seismically active regions in India, i.e., seismic zones IV and V or the highest risk areas.

The EDRI report has been prepared based on the field visit of 25 cities and collection of secondary data from the remaining. In each city, a sample of around 400 buildings were selected in different areas.

Using the methodology proposed, the study ranked all 50 cities on a scale of 0-100. The risk has been categorized as Low, Medium and High for easy understanding of decision-makers and town planners.

The research study team comprised of Principal investigator R Pradeep Kumar and his PhD scholars of the IIIT who worked on this for three years. According to Pradeep Ramancharla, “EDRI will help to provide a systematic way to compare the overall earthquake disaster risks across a large number of cities and regions in India; and to create awareness on seismic zones that are under low seismic hazard regions yet poses seismic risk threats and the influencing parameters. It will sensitize policy makers for taking appropriate actions towards reducing the earthquake risks “

India’s Seismic Hazard Profile

India’s hazard profile shows that about 56 per cent area of India is vulnerable to moderate to major earthquakes. It is evident from past earthquakes such as Manipur (2016), Nepal (2015), Sikkim (2011), Kashmir (2005), Bhuj (2001), Chamoli (1999), Jabalpur (1997) and Latur (1993) that all type of buildings sustain damage if not designed properly.

The experiences of these earthquakes have demonstrated that many typical buildings of different types have sustained significant damage in these earthquakes. More than 90 per cent of the casualties in past earthquakes have occurred due to collapse of houses and structures. The loss of life and property can be minimized significantly by ensuring better code compliance of new constructions and undertaking seismic retrofitting of existing buildings thereby making them earthquake resilient.

The NDMA hopes that the report will be of help to city officials concerned and act as a guide towards disaster risk mitigation and preparedness efforts.

The Geological Survey of India (GSI) first published the Seismic Zoning Map of India in 1935 giving the regions that fall in the seismically active regions of the country into five zones. It has been upgraded. Similarly, the earthquake hazard map and more extensive maps have been produced over the years by the National Geophysical Research Institute and the National Centre for Seismology.