The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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IIT gets tremor trackers

Khargapur, Oct. 3: Keeping in mind that Bengal falls in an earthquake-prone zone, the Indian Institute of Technology here is setting up a state-of-the-art seismological observation station with the help of the ministry of science and technology.

The station, being equipped at a cost of Rs 50 lakh, will monitor seismic activity in the Bengal basin, including parts of Bangladesh and neighbouring states, said Sankar Kumar Nath, professor with the IIT’s department of geology and geophysics, who will head the centre. Nath has won the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize this year for simulating seismic responses with Seispack, a software he has developed.

Nath pointed out that the station would also monitor quakes anywhere on earth. “The equipment is sensitive enough to record nuclear blasts as well as explosions in mines,” Nath said.

“It is not possible to predict or prevent earthquakes, but what is possible is to pinpoint the areas prone to seismic activity and, accordingly, draw up plans and special designs for the urbanisation of that area. Also, old structures can be renovated so that they have better elasticity to absorb shocks from an earthquake,” Nath pointed out.

Nath said there should be a close working relationship among the government, the promoters of urban structures and scientists. “In this way, urbanisation has to be re-modelled in the Bengal basin, or else we might share the same fate as that of Bhuj,” Nath emphasised.

The scientist voiced his concern over the development of New Town at Rajarhat in North 24-Parganas. “If proper earthquake shock-absorption buildings are not constructed on the marshy land there, even a minor tremor can bring them down,” Nath warned.

The professor also heads a Centre-sponsored project on seismic activity in Darjeeling and Sikkim. There is a “strong motion” network in several areas of Sikkim, like Lachen, Chungtham, Mangan and Gangtok.

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