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Quake alert for 'vulnerable Tripura'

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 3.11.11
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Agartala, Nov. 2: The Union department of disaster management has raised the hackles of the Tripura government by warning about possible earthquakes and their likely disastrous effects on the state.

What has become a source of major concern is that North Tripura and Dhalai districts have been identified as “most vulnerable” to earthquakes.

The warning, issued in the wake of the recent earthquake in Sikkim, has directed the state government to ensure that constructions are made keeping in mind the possibility of earthquake and the state’s vulnerability.

Disclosing this in a news conference, Tripura revenue minister Badal Chowdhury said even before the warning, the state government has started taking measures to prepare for any eventuality.

“We have launched an awareness programme and have started buying equipment for use in emergency situations that may require rescue operations on a large scale. We have also imposed strict restrictions on sanction of building construction plans by Agartala Municipal Council and nagar panchayats,” Chowdhury said.

Besides initiating measures for fighting possible disasters likely to be caused by earthquakes, the state government has already identified 2,000 vulnerable buildings. These include Ujjayanta Palace, abode of former princely rulers of the state in the heart of Agartala town, Raj Bhavan, Neer Mahal, a lake palace built by Tripura’s last king Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya in 1933, MBB College and a large number of school buildings.

The revenue minister said the Centre has been requested for funds to strengthen the vulnerable government buildings.

“We have also identified a large number of private buildings, the owners of which will be asked to make them earthquake-resistant,” he said.

Chowdhury said the funds constraints were creating obstacles in initiating measures to face disaster situations likely to be caused by earthquakes.

“The 13th Finance Commission sanctioned Rs 1 crore a year to tackle disaster situations but this has already proved to be inadequate. So we have requested the Centre for Rs 5 crore a year so that all measures to face earthquakes can be taken,” Chowdhury said.

He said a battalion of disaster management force, raised by the Centre, should be posted in Agartala because the lone battalion stationed in Guwahati, when required, won’t be able to come in time to help the state.

“We also need an institute to provide training on disaster management and the Centre has been approached to set up one in Agartala. A workshop on disaster management will be held soon for intensive discussion,” the revenue minister said.

He said experts from across the country would take part in the workshop and impart training.