Haryana’s new secretariat in Chandigarh has become the only building in the country to have an early earthquake warning and security system (onsite).
The system is already being used in 26 countries around the world and can provide crucial seconds for evacuation in event of an earthquake.
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Installed and demonstrated by a team from Terra Techcom Private Limited, New Delhi, and Secretary Electronics GmbH, Germany, who have collaborated with India for the project, the system uses a master and a submaster device which prevents false alarms and a six-horn siren at the terrace with a 6-km range, said Bijender Goel, managing director, Terra Techcom Private Limited.
“We have shown and proven the utility of our device today by grounding the elevators and by sounding alarm at every floor of this seven-storey building,” he added. The system can shut down the elevators, electricity, water supply and run back-up programmes as soon as the alarm goes off, thus preventing the potential damage that fire, electricity or other variables can cause.
The system works on the principle of primary and secondary waves of an earthquake. The primary waves, which many animals can detect, are the initial vertical movements beneath the earth that can neither be felt by human beings nor can they cause any damage. However, they are soon followed by secondary waves that shake the earth horizontally and have the potential to cause damage, which is known to us as an earthquake.
The system detects intensity of the primary waves and gives out an alarm only when the intensity of the following secondary waves is high enough to potentially cause damage. This also means that the time between the alarm and the actual earthquake could vary from two seconds to 30 seconds.
For example, if the epicentre of a high-intensity earthquake is 40 kilometres away, people could get eight to 12 seconds to take action. This means that if the epicentre is close, the system might not provide enough time for any action whatsoever but if linked, it could turn off the electrical or gas supply of the building and reduce the damage.
The price for one such system could be around Rs 30 lakh, excluding the taxes and installation costs. Another challenge would be the training of people to know what the alarm means and what they are supposed to do once the alarm goes off, especially when only a few seconds would be at the disposal.