Quake leaves people shaken
The tremor also affected Metro services as the speed of trains was slowed down to less than half. Traffic was halted in some areas as scared drivers parked their vehicles along the roadside.
However, no causality or major loss has been reported in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR). The earthquake had its epicentre in Afganistan, which recorded a magnitude of 7.5 on the Richter Scale.
Thousands of Metro commuters were stranded as trains across the Delhi Metro corridor came to a screeching halt and services were resumed only after 15 minutes.
Even after the services were resumed, trains ran at a very slow speed and it took long for normal operations to be resumed as a comprehensive safety check was undertaken.
“Metro services were put on hold from 2.40 pm to 2.55 pm, in view of the earthquake. Thereafter, train services were brought to normal after ensuring a safety check of the structures,” a senior DMRC official said.
He said train services stopped as per the standard procedure and that extensive safety check was a part of the same. “We looked for possible derailments or damages to station structures. Every major component was looked at,” the official said.
Nearly 27 lakh passengers avail metro services daily which connects several pockets of Delhi with major NCR settlements such as Gurgaon, Noida and Faridabad.
Despite the vulnerability of the region as it falls under Seismic Zone-IV, the authorities’ tall claims of conducting surveys regarding preventive measures put up in place in highrises in NCR towns of Noida, Greater Noida, Gurgaon and Ghaziabad appear to be a mere ‘eyewash’.
No such measure was reflected on surface when NCR felt the shocks. People living in highrises continue to be at risk.
With hundreds of residential and commercial high-rises dotting NCR’s landscape, Noida, Greater Noida, Gurgaon and Ghaziabad are vulnerable in the event of an earthquake.
Geologically, Ghaziabad and Noida form a part of the Indo-Gangetic alluvium, which is full of silt, sand and loam. According to disaster management experts, upward areas along the Yamuna and the Hindon rivers are more vulnerable in the event of any major quake. Gautam Buddh Nagar, too, has thousands of unsafe buildings as their maps have not been approved by the authorities concerned.
“After earthquakes in the last six months, builders and the authorities concerned have been asked to adopt preventive measures in their buildings. As NCR falls under ‘danger zone’, we have sought details of measures put up in place to tackle calamities like earthquake and about strengthening highrises so that they could sustain tremors. Earlier, we had asked the authorities concerned to check if builders were following the norms laid down by the government, but we are yet get an information in this regard,” said Indrish Gupta, co-founder of Noida Extension Flat Owners’ Welfare Association (NEFOWA) and a resident of Ecovillage-I in Noida Extension.
Annu Khan, president of Noida Extension Flat Owners and Members Association (NEFOMA), said: “Homebuyers are scared, with many of them not wanting to shift in flats constructed in the area. We have decided to meet senior officials of the authorities to inquire about the safety measures adopted by builders. For now, we have asked people to be alert and take measures for themselves.”
According to an expert: “Delhi-NCR has nearly 50 lakh buildings and most of them do not have proper safety norms. As two rivers pass through the area, it is sandy here. Buildings close to the rivers are more vulnerable to earthquakes.”
He added that the authorities concerned must ensure that the materials used in construction are of good quality and the builders should get the maps and designs of highrises approved to avert mishaps.
Even Gurgaon, which has a number of highrises, is prone to quakes. There are several cases, wherein safety norms are required to be followed and steps needed to be taken.