TODAY -

The 4 January Earthquake
(A Wakeup Call For Manipur)

S. Kunjabihari Singh *

Manipur Earthquake : Aftermath as seen at Saikhul Bazaar, Sadar Hills :: January 4 2016
Manipur Earthquake : Aftermath as seen at Saikhul Bazaar, Sadar Hills on January 4 2016 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam



This pre-dawn earthquake on 04 January, 2015, 4.35 am to be precise, barely a week back, in our state Manipur, is reported to be measuring 6.7 on the Richter scale. Most were still in the comfort of the morning slumber only to be shaken awake with that terrifying jolt most of the people had not experienced for decades.

It is considered as moderately big in terms of seismological terminologies. The epicenter is reported to be at Noney a nondescript hill town hardly 30 km. from Imphal as the crow flies. This nearness of the epicenter explains the intensity of the tremor. It rocked the entire north east as also parts of north east states.

We lost 8 precious lives, over 100 were injured apart from damages often serious to houses in their thousands and a variety of properties. Had Manipur’s density of population was higher, the casualties could have been much more. And yet, this temblor is rated as the worst in a long span of 65 years in the state’s history, after a similarly violent tremor in 1950.

Manipur as part of the greater NE Region and one part of Gujarat, Bhuj, falls under Seismic Zone V, the highest-risk-zone of earthquake. Around 59% of India’s land mass is exposed to all forms of varying intensity of earthquakes. The US Geographical Survey which monitors and surveys worldwide, reports, “the earthquake near Imphal occurred as a result of strike slip faulting or a tectonic fault in the complex plate boundary region between India and the Eurasia plate in southeast Asia”.

The sad reality is that such earthquakes, may be stronger even, could strike anytime again in this part of the universe; the stark reality and danger, again is the unpredictability of when it could occur and how intensive it could be. Experts claim that in this region, indeed earthquakes do strike almost daily only differing on the intensity and magnitude. Most occur unnoticed; only the severe ones like this one are felt. And Manipur in particular, lies precisely within this ‘most prone zone’. Anytime unannounced, even more severe than this one could occur. How do then we prepare for the worst, is the issue.

According to the MHA’s disaster management organization, a much bigger catastrophe where earthquakes measuring 8.2 or greater could emerge in the already ruptured Himalayan region. According to them the tectonic shift resulting to a series of recent quakes in the region like, the one in Manipur, 6.7 (2016), Nepal, 7.3 (2015), Sikkim, 6.9 (2011) has again ruptured the plates that had already developed cracks during the previous temblors. This conditioning has led to a situation more prone to multiple earthquakes with a magnitude of up to 8.0 or more.

They talk about a ‘ring of fire garlanding the entire north India especially the mountainous region’. This critical issue was also highlighted in the Itanagar conclave on ‘Sustainable Development of Mountain States’, where 11 hill states of the region deliberated upon the emerging threat scenario. In the event of the nonexistence of any combat measure to stall such a catastrophe, the only plausible resolution was to develop a common building code for mountainous states like ours.

In addition, disaster-preparedness on the face of such a likely event would go a long way in minimizing casualties. The preparedness is again a relative term often missing the focus of the people; and this is where the calamity would grab its hold in full.

The observation of Santosh Kumar, the Director of the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) would be not only informative but also could be absorbed as a warning call. He observed, “the interconnected plates across Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and India pose a bigger danger and predicted a disaster of bigger magnitude that awaits hill states and parts of Bihar, UP, Delhi which fall under the second worst seismic classification, Zone IV”.

And mind you, the North east and other hill states fall under severe seismic Zone V. Some international experts prominently Roger Bilham of the University of Colorado opined that seismologists are of the opinion that the current conditions might trigger at least 4 earthquakes greater than 8.0 in magnitude. And in the event of delay in the development, the strain accumulated during the centuries could provoke more catastrophic mega-earthquakes.

The worse news could be that reportedly stress has increased in the mountains of the north east since the Nepal earthquake. The reading is that this Monday’s earthquake on the 4th January in Manipur shows that the developed ‘stress’ has not been fully released, has only become worse. They thus conclude, “The collision between the Himalayan plate in the north and the Indo-Burmese plate in the east, and the risk created as a result, is the highest at this moment of time”.

The MHA’s own assessment that the regulatory mechanism in these risk-prone states is weak and therefore any disaster in any one of these states could cause severe casualties. Such is the situation which could only be categorized as ‘precarious’, nothing more, nothing less.

Seismologists across the world have been predicting a major tremor along the 400 kilometer fault line under the Himalayas. The last year’s Nepal earthquake measuring 7.8 magnitude on the Richter scale fell just short of the predicted magnitude of 8.0 or more and could still be read as to be around the corner. In the post- Nepal earthquake, the Ministry of Home Affair’s National Institute of Disaster Management had warned of enhanced risk around the ‘ring of fire’ encompassing the entire north India.

This region is reportedly facing a huge tectonic stress with an increasing number of jolts reaching the Gregorian level of 8.0 or even more in store anytime in the future. This unpredictability of an intensive quake surpassing 7.0 magnitude, this uncertainty of the emergence of a tremor, anytime, any moment, in the day, is spine-chilling to think of.

This jolt out of the blue at a time when people were feeling the pleasure and the luxury of the new year has to be taken seriously in all its ramifications. The after-shocks which normally succeed such a major quake is yet to emerge and one never is sure if they are not lying in wait. Already the damage caused, however small, in respect of the houses left untouched, though in some cases serious damages have been caused, are prone to more serious casualties. We have to prepare to face this unforeseen or even inevitable danger in the days to come. Prayers and playing conch shells alone would not be of much help. The reality could be really serious.

Old timers’ memory of the 1950 quake measuring 8.7 on the Richter scale in Assam can only be described as horrific; it killed 2500 people alone in the state and is a grim reminder of the trail of devastation so complete in all its format. Added to that the spine-chilling memory is that of chain of after-shocks running into days for over a week in a city already devastated in the cruelest manner. The devastation was so complete that the mighty Brahmaputra is said to have changed its course at stretches.

History stands witness how the 1950 earthquake chocked completely the Nanoi river, a tributary of the Brahmaputra. People saw in utter amazement how the river disappeared in front of their own eyes as huge lumps of earth came tumbling down into the river by the violent shaking; the river completely buried in a few moments.

Arrival of highly trained disaster response team from Delhi or the existence of the Office of the State Disaster Relief Management would be secondary line of action profile; the people themselves only are the ones to come forward, to act instantaneously in a more organized manner. The recent spate of training and exposure programmes highlighting guidelines to be followed were not, repeat, not of much use.

Many reportedly jumped down from first floor buildings, nor could the State Disaster Response Force could be of much help. The simple reason being, those who man the Response Team themselves are victims of this natural calamity. Who then is to be responsible? Only we are, not others.


* S. Kunjabihari Singh wrote this article for e-pao.net
The article was originally written on Tuesday, 12 January 2016 and the writer can be reached at kunjabiharis(aT)rediffmail(doT)com
This article was posted on Janaury 22, 2016.


* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of e-pao.net. We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.




LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • Tribal Cultural Festival #2 : Gallery
  • Let's talk about our children today
  • A blow to image boosting
  • Fear and Superstition
  • Latrine :: Poem
  • Letter to JS-MHRD from MUTA
  • JS-MHRD did not meet with MUTA
  • Drawing on Energy Efficiency
  • MU impasse: Attention Mr. Prime Minister
  • Admission time : Sky high cut off
  • Great June Uprising @Kekrupat #2 : Gallery
  • Yoga Day: Celebrating Your Health
  • Chak-hao - black gold of Manipur
  • In response to the culture of shaming
  • 3rd Documentor Imphal
  • 4th International Day of Yoga by AR
  • Appeals for Resolution of MU Crisis
  • Recommendation to control Flood damages
  • International Yoga Day at Loktak PS
  • After Flood : Introspection about the future
  • MUSU & JAC : Hot issues before the Govt
  • Zeliangrong orphaned by Nationalism #2
  • General Thangal Eco Park : Gallery
  • Letter to President on Crisis at MU
  • Precision medicine & life sciences
  • Black topping-can ground leveling be behind
  • Condemns security force intrusion in MU
  • Developer wanted at LMP, Konjeng Leikai
  • AR gears up for International Yoga Day
  • NPF rejoinder to NDPP : 20 June
  • Rejoinder by Dr. Shurhozelie : 20 June
  • For a little bit more
  • Deadline of 5 days time set : MU crisis
  • Garlic Festival @Ukhrul #4 :: Gallery
  • Flood in Imphal [14 June] #3 : Gallery
  • Inungshi, Gaichanglungliu :: eMing
  • Taking 'Hau' Music to Rest of World
  • Kakching bags cleanest city in NE Award
  • JRF (Junior Research Fellow) at IBSD
  • Oxfam India launches emergency response
  • VC, MU - Resign immediately :: MUTA
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • Translation of ancient Manipur texts begin
  • Pre Yoga Capsule organized
  • NDPP Rejoinder on 19 June
  • NPF Youth Wing Rejoinder on 19 June
  • Favouring digital govt : still a Virtual dream
  • June 18 Anniv : Consult all stakeholders
  • Great June Uprising @Kekrupat #1 : Gallery
  • Binota Thokchom at BRICS Young Scientist
  • The Merger of Manipur
  • Improving school management in Manipur
  • Pros & cons of screening tests
  • NPF Rejoinder on 18th June
  • Nagaland CM statement on Aboi ambush
  • June 18 significance: Still living on prayer
  • Need to identify one's strength
  • 18 Immortal Souls Remembered : Flash
  • The Great June Uprising : Read all about it
  • The Pitfalls of Identity Politics
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • All his sons :: Poem
  • Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016
  • Eid bring cheer in flood hit areas
  • Willong Khullen, Maram #1 : Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Defending the environmental defenders
  • Delusion in self - cause of worry
  • Road to Russia: FIFA World Cup
  • It must be love :: Poem
  • 'Future of Naga people is bleak'
  • Give a miss call to Amnesty
  • 'Naga area' bandh on June 18
  • Dzuko valley #4 :: 360 Panorama View
  • Flood in Imphal [14 June] #2 : Gallery
  • Id-Ul-Fitr Festival
  • Letter to PM Modi on Naga Talks
  • Greetings on Eid-Ul-Fitr
  • Rejoinder to NPF statement
  • Rejoinder to Nagaland Chief Minister
  • Flood relief continue on 3rd day
  • India-Vietnam Youth Dialogue 2018
  • MU debacle: Why would it be left unnoticed
  • Spirit of World Cup : Brazil to Russia
  • NEC to come under Home Ministry
  • Manipur NGO hosts summit on LGBTQ
  • Flood in Imphal [14 June] #1 : Gallery
  • Women Struggle in Self-Determination
  • 14 June- World Blood Donor Day
  • Naga Integration not possible- NPF react
  • Naga Integration is not possible- CM Rio
  • Relief work in flood affected areas
  • A day which keeps our spirit alive
  • Ranked 320 in the country : MU
  • Flood in Imphal [13 June] #2 : Gallery
  • Sovereignty Struggles in Northeast #5
  • Be alert: It's admission time
  • Yin and Yang
  • Watermelon beauty benefits
  • Temp accommodation for Aligarh students
  • Wrath of Mother Nature: Why challenge..
  • 60 pc is no longer first class : 95 pc
  • Flood in Imphal [13 June] #1 : Gallery
  • Sanamahi Laihui & Sanamahi Laining
  • Kuhi- Essential plant for Nungbi pottery
  • Climate justice is integral to development
  • The bridge :: Poem
  • Lt S Vijaya Devi felicitated
  • Then : Indifferent :: Now : Hyper sensitive
  • Phumdigi Tantha : Dance Drama : Gallery
  • Grief at Xavier Rutsa's demise
  • Modi's India: A descend into Ochlocracy
  • The Philippine Experience
  • Cry of a Dying River #33 :: Poem
  • Community Iftar at Moijing, Cachar
  • Candle Light at DU over Assam lynching
  • Demand replacement of Manipur Univ VC
  • The Tragedy of Higher education
  • Unacceptable points spelt out
  • Teinem Luira Phanit @Ukhrul #3: Gallery
  • RPL-PMKVY trainees @Hojai : Gallery
  • Manipur Sports University in UP ?
  • Coloniality of the Postcolonial
  • Yellow leaves in the autumn :: Poem
  • Prof N Irabanta-distinguished academician
  • Leadership matters
  • Artificial turf for budding talents
  • 2 municipal bodies in NE awarded
  • Who is Arambam Somorendra ?
  • Manglandasu Nang - OST :: e-pao Radio
  • Shirock 2018 - Shirui Lily Fest #3 : Gallery
  • Linthoi's "The Tales of Kanglei Throne" #2
  • Grass root challenge- Education in hills
  • Earth does not belong to us...
  • Sita Mata as test-tube baby
  • What happen to VIP Culture Mr. CM
  • Merchants of education
  • Laitonjam Rajnikanta : Profile
  • A blessing to see :: Poem
  • Sovereignty Struggles in Northeast #4
  • Difference between Hinduism & Hindutva
  • How to choose the perfect fragrance
  • Iftaar party at Lilong
  • Bitter truth of Manipuri society
  • MU, NSU, IGNTU : Students at the centre
  • Amuktang-Ga Haikho #1 : eRang
  • Sangai Veterans' Football #2 : Gallery
  • Pony : A Cavalry Horse Par Excellence #2
  • Issues that keep Manipur burning
  • Cry of a Dying River - 32 :: Poem
  • CM & AR interaction with villagers
  • Certification of PMKVY trainees of Hojai
  • Christian appeals for Peace in Shillong
  • How safe are our women?
  • Riders put up by JAC for talk
  • Khangkhui Cave in Ukhrul #3 : Gallery
  • Pluralism, Democracy & Ethnic Relation #2
  • Irom Sharmila meets with Mehbooba Mufti
  • JRF @ Mizoram University (Biotechnology)
  • Tobacco and heart disease
  • Understanding SOWA - RIGPA #2
  • Campaign "to End Child Sexual Abuse"
  • Implementation of 7th Pay
  • Indigenous street vendor sing gi wafam
  • The crumbling Manipur University
  • Kang Tournament @ Yaiskul : Gallery
  • Zeliangrong orphaned by Nationalism #1
  • A rainy night :: Poem
  • HSLC Exam is the start! What next?
  • 1528 cases of fake encounter
  • Linthoi's "The Tales of Kanglei Throne" #1
  • Handloom Weaver @Bishnupur : Gallery
  • Shirock 2018 - Shirui Lily Fest #2 : Gallery
  • Hinduism in Manipur : Political Perspective
  • All the World and his Wife :: Poem
  • Tribal Cultural Festival #1 : Gallery
  • Women in CCpur turn to self-help groups
  • Purul Paoki Wrestling : Gallery
  • Sangai Veterans' Football #1 : Gallery
  • Khangminashi IV (Lecture) : Report
  • Seminar at MU - Hinduism in Manipur'
  • Evolution of The Meetei State
  • Heartbreak at Ukhrul: Unfolding Shirock
  • State Level Khurpui-Lam Festival: Gallery
  • June Calendar for Year 2018 :: Tools
  • School Girls Basketball #2 : Gallery
  • Where is Manipur....???
  • 'Manipur' in Google maps : Gallery
  • The Killing Fields - 2013-18 : News Timeline
  • Mama Poktabi :: Funga Wari
  • Veterans Football Tournament #2 : Gallery
  • Shirock 2018 - Shirui Lily Fest #1 : Gallery
  • Sougrakpam Vijaya makes history sailing...
  • Arunachali unfurled Salai Taret at Mt Everest
  • Panthoiba: 2nd Rank- class XII, Uttarkhand
  • Ras Leela @JNMDA Day : Gallery
  • HSLC 208 Exam Toppers : Gallery
  • HSLC 2018 :: Toppers Listing
  • HSLC 2018 :: Check Result
  • HSLC :: Statistical/Subject Topper
  • HSLC 2018 :: External
  • Poumai Purul Hiimai Paoki #2 : Gallery
  • Kakching Garden :: 360 Panorama View
  • Folk Dance Festival #5 : Gallery
  • Aerial view from Chingmeirong : Gallery
  • Curtain Raising- Sangai Fest 2017: Gallery
  • Lainingthou Lai Lam thopka #2 : Gallery
  • Re-visiting Khangkhui caves in Ukhrul
  • Gardening @Ema Keithel #2: Gallery
  • Front Page Photo 2018 #2: Gallery
  • Pakhangba Cheng Hongba #2 : Gallery
  • Steelheart @ Shirock , Ukhrul #3 : Gallery
  • A. Halim Chowdhury: A Profile
  • Class XII Exam Toppers : Gallery
  • Class XII Result : Science Toppers
  • Class XII Result : Arts Toppers
  • Class XII Result : Commerce Toppers
  • HSE Result 2018 : District Wise
  • HSE Result 2018 : Highest Marks
  • HSE Result 2018 : Science Stream
  • HSE Result 2018 : Arts Stream
  • HSE Result 2018 : Commerce Stream
  • Temples of Manipur : Gallery
  • Recipients of Akademi Awards for 2014
  • Old Manipuri Movie #1 :: eRang Classic
  • SPONSORED ADS