India should emulate Japan and Taiwan’s earthquake response models

Taiwan was recently hit by an earthquake measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale – the most powerful in 25 years – but the island nation has emerged virtually unscathed and minimised the losses. This was possible due to top-notch support systems, including a stringent building code, robust seismological network, swift emergency responses and extensive public education campaigns on earthquake safety. This holds lessons for India on earthquake preparedness. While the Taiwan quake came as a grim reminder of the seismic vulnerability of the nations situated along the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’, the response shown by the tiny nation stands as a beacon of resilience.

It has invested sufficiently in disaster preparedness. Despite the magnitude of the latest tremor, major losses were averted. One must remember that earthquakes don’t kill, buildings do. In many other countries, buildings fail to withstand tremors because of construction flaws, exacting a heavy toll on human life. India needs to emulate the policies of countries like Japan and Taiwan to be better prepared to handle earthquakes and minimise losses. The Himalayan plate border is particularly vulnerable to earthquakes in India because of its geography. The Indian plate colliding with the Eurasian plate is the main reason for earthquakes in the country. The Himalayas were created as a result of this collision, and the area experiences frequent earthquakes, as well. Moreover, India has a significant earthquake risk due to its growing population and irrational land use for construction.