Impact of Earthquake Disasters on New Urbanization Pattern in North Eastern Region of India

Trilochan Singh
Col. (Retd.) Prakash Tewari

DOI: 10.2190/ES.32.1.g


Earthquake disasters, which are basically related to slow earth processes, have remained common phenomena in the recent past and have created significant havoc. The North Eastern Region of India has remained geologically sensitive and is under constant threat seismically. The region has a complex structural framework, and comprises seven major geo-tectonic terrains, viz., Eastern Himalaya, Mishmi Block, Naga Hills, Assam Valley, Shillong Plateau&Mikir Hills, Arakan-Yoma Folded Belt, and Bengal Basin, which are geodynamically active. Seismicity is very common in the region, which has been experiencing earthquakes ranging from major to minor intensity frequently. The seismic studies indicate that ArakanYoma/Tripura folded belt region is most active, followed by Shillong Plateau, NE Himalaya and Bengal Basin. In Arunachal, seismicity is aligned along the Main Boundary Thrust, Main Central Thrust, Lohit, and Mishmi thrusts. Unplanned development, particularly concrete construction, is increasing day by day without consideration of their vulnerability to earthquakes, especially in the hilly areas. An example from Itanagar, the capital of Arunachal Pradesh, demonstrates that the capital towns, urban towns, and business towns of this region have reached beyond the critical level of their bearing capacity. Population pressure is forcing people to construct their houses on the hill slopes. This is disturbing the natural slope, thereby increasing landslide hazards. The concern is not just increasing population, but also the eco-system which is prone to natural hazards. The people are constructing concrete buildings, most of which are without engineering design, and even the houses have paved the way for multistorey masonry buildings. This has increased vulnerability to the disaster and, therefore, there is a strong need for proper planning to ensure sustainable development. The need is to have a long-term program of natural hazards assessment and mitigation through an integrated approach with participation of the society and scientific community. An effective strategy for disaster mitigation has been suggested in this article.

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