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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: Are the mild tremors felt in western Odisha on Wednesday an indication of any big quake in the making in that part of the State?

As per reports, in the dusk hours of Wednesday, western Odisha was jolted mildly by a quake epicentered at Deogarh.

"A mild earthquake, with its epicentre in Deogarh district, was recorded at around 5.47 pm on Wednesday. The coordinates of the earthquake were latitude 21.6 degrees north and longitude 84.6 degrees east,” informed HR Biswas, Director, Bhubaneswar Meteorological Centre.

The details (represented in bold letters) given by HR Biswas are very significant. Data available shows that the exact geographical location had witnessed earthquake earlier and that was destructive enough then in that part of Odisha. Here are the details.

27 March 1995 - Laimura-Deogarh area, Odisha, Intensity - 4.6. Location: 21.671 N, 84.565 E, Depth was 10.0 kms. This area is located to the east of Sambalpur. This earthquake is called the Bonaigarh earthquake. A maximum MSK intensity of V was observed. Many buildings were damaged at Bonaigarh and Deogarh.

So, the moot point therefore is the Wednesday tremor only a one-off such quakes? Or there is something more to it than meets the eye.

A look at a handful of geological/seismic studies reveal a warning shot for the State administration.

A seismic/geological study on 1999 killer Turkey quakes tells the tale. The data collected by seismologists and geologists had revealed that the site of fault had recorded many a lower order of seismic activities prior to the big-bang tremor that took lives of 17,000 in 1999.

Not overseas studies, studies in India had also revealed that Uttarakhand had witnessed many such mild tremors prior to the 1991 earthquake that measured 6.8 in Richter scale and killed 768 people.

In the context of such documented incidents, the Odisha Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA) and office of Special Relief Commissioner need to remain vigilant. And there is an urgent need to set up a seismic earth station in the fault region of Deogarh to keep a tab of seismic activities undergoing there.

Chronology of Quakes witnessed in Western Odisha:

08 May 1963 - Bijakuli-Banei to the east of Sambalpur area, Odisha. Intensity was Mb 5.2. Geographic Location: 21.700 N, 84.900 E. And the Depth was at 33.0 kms. Seismologists say that the area is vulnerable to a quake of higher magnitude of 6.0.

05 August 1979 - Dublabera-Majhgaon area, Jharkhand, Mb 4.7. Location: 22.100 N, 84.900 E.

This epicentre was located along the state border between Jharkhand and Odisha, near the town of Daspur in north-eastern Odisha.

12 June 2001 - Konokjora - Sundergarh Area, Odisha Mw- 4.7 Location: 22.240 N, 83.918 E, Dept of origin was at 25.5 kms,

This was a termed as a light earthquake.

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