A report based on a study by researchers at IIIT-Hyderabad has ranked Vijayawada among cities with a high risk of an earthquake disaster. The pilot study quantifies the Earthquake Disaster Risk Index (EDRI) for 50 cities and 1 district across India, including two cities from the southern states - Chennai and Vijayawada. While Chennai was categorised under cities with Medium EDRI, Vijayawada was found to be in the High EDRI group. Port Blair, which was also part of the study, fell under the Medium risk index category.
The research was carried out by a team led by Pradeep Kumar Ramancharla from the Earthquake Engineering Research Center (EERC) of IIIT-H. The study measures the risk of earthquakes, enabling government authorities and the construction industry with information to take preventative measures to minimise loss of life as well as economic losses in the event of a disaster.
Most cities studied in the research were from the seismically active regions in India, classified as seismic zones IV and V. While Vijayawada falls under seismic zone III, it was chosen as it is part of the Smart Cities Mission program. Cities were also chosen based on their population density and â€˜housing threat factorâ€™, a parameter based on the housing density and the topography of the region.
The risk index depends on three sub-factors - Hazard, which is based on the topography of the region, Exposure, which indicates the number of people and buildings spread across the region and Vulnerability, which depends on the existing condition of the buildings and the extent of loss of life and economic loss that can possibly result from an earthquake. In the study, Vijayawada ranked Medium on Hazard and Vulnerability, but High on Exposure, which has resulted in a high risk index.
With the capital being announced in the Amaravati area close to Vijayawada, urbanisation in the region has accelerated in the city, with an increase in population and construction activity. Back in 2014, the Geological Survey of India had also indicated that there was seismic risk in and around the city.
The study also suggests steps that the construction industry and the government must take to mitigate the risk, which includes outlawing of unsafe practices, retrofitting of unsafe constructions, investing in new technologies, and having policies in place to ensure that constructions are earthquake resistant.