The famous 5th century Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu has survived the massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake that flattened several World Heritages like iconic Dharhara tower and Darbar Square in Nepal much like the Kedarnath temple during Uttarakhand floods. For the devotees, the resilience of the Temple to quake is a divine miracle, but what actually saved the Temple were several structural features like the square plan of the temple, its light weight, and the roofs and floors uniting with the walls and the string jointing system. Since most of the victims in the Nepal quake died due to building collapse, the architecture of the temple on one hand highlight the importance of good building material and smart engineering, and on the other, it offers a lesson on the importance of earthquake-resilient building in averting earthquake disaster.
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The Nepal quake resulted from a collision between the Indian crustal block and the Eurasian continent. According to Geophysicists the entire Indian subcontinent is being driven slowly but surely beneath Nepal at a speed of five centimetres a year. This they say will generate a five-metre contraction over a century and results in silent stress build-up in the inner crustal rock. When the stress accumulation reaches a critical point, an earthquake occurs. Since it has been happening for over millions of years now, the squeezing, the scientists say has crushed the Himalayas, raising mountains and triggering earthquakes on a regular basis. That this will continue is a fact. And that this dynamic process will also induce stress accumulation in India is again a reality. The Gujarat earthquake of 2001 was a result of this process. And the harsher reality is that a quake is sure to occur in future.
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In this backdrop, massive destruction that followed after the quake in the Himalayan Kingdom is a wake-up call for India, as the tragedy raise some important questions that we need to consider seriously. One, how prepared is India to face Himalayan tremor in future? Second being, how safe are our cities? It is a fact that natural calamities have their own schedule. As nations which fall in the high seismic activity zone there is a growing need to build a comprehensive and robust programme to create advanced reconstruction policies, and to create awareness among public for disaster mitigation. If the Indian government makes a public investment in this area, it needs to first come to some sort of social agreement in disaster mitigation. Mass media can infact play a key role in creating awareness about disaster preparedness. In addition, with a proper legal system in place, especially a Building Standard Law for earthquake disaster better adapted for high seismic activity can be some of the investments that prove to be a life saviour.
Another Cover Story: How Prepared is India?