With a sudden shake of a table or windowpane, and off we run in fear of an earthquake. And what if we are in a Metro rail? Have you ever thought how safe are we in the high-speed Metros if an earthquake hits us, especially in a high-risk city like Delhi?
The good news is we are safe, especially in Delhi Metro. The DMRC (Delhi Metro Rail Corporation) has an earthquake warning system in place called the EqWS (Earthquake Warning System), installed since June 2015. The system senses and records the event and generates SMS to the concerned action points in real time.
In fact, the system on April 10, 2016, had helped stop the Metro services after the tremors had hit the Indian capital and some parts of Northern India. The EqWS had alerted DMRC on time. The alerts were sent to systems installed in five metro stations by 16:01 pm. Developed by Chandigarh-based Council of Scientific and Industrial Research–Central Scientific Instruments Organization (CSIR-CSIO), the Earthquake Warning System recorded the event and generated an SMS to the concerned action points.
The system consisted of a network of five seismic sensing nodes at different Delhi metro stations: Mundka, Botanical Garden, Huda City Centre, Metro Bhawan and Faridabad.
“The information has been integrated with the system and was also passed on to designated officers. Within three seconds, orders can be given to stop the Metro,” said R K Sinha, Director of CSIO.
“The system can also be used at nuclear reactor sites and the activity could be stopped in case of an earthquake,” he added.
Sinha, however, refused to call it an earthquake early warning system as it works only after the tremor, following which it senses the waves.
“The sensor also has a highly sensitive pendulum. So anytime there is a vibration inside the earth, it starts oscillating. They send signals about any seismic activity and communicate it to the central control located at Operation Control Centre (DMRC-OCC) regarding potential earthquake incidence. The central control takes a final decision based on the response of all the individual nodes and generates an audio-visual alarm and sends the event details via email and SMS to the registered users,” Sinha added.
He said, in countries like Japan the Metro services stop automatically when it receives such signals.
In this context, the present NDA government views that the EqWS should be further upgraded. “There is a need to upscale the Earthquake Warning System deployed in the Delhi Metro,” said Dr. Girish Sahni, Director General CSIR and Secretary DSIR (Department of Scientific and Industrial Research) at a PIB press conference celebrating the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s completion of three years in power.
While the conference delved into various scientific achievements in last three years, one of the important topics was how to make the earthquake warning system more efficient and advance real-time monitoring of earthquake.
The main purpose is to inform the concerned authorities within three minutes of the seismological activities.
The National Seismological Network will be upgraded to 116 observatories by end of 2017. Another important initiative is microzonation of the cities. So far cities like Delhi, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru and Kolkata have been microzonized completely. The government has identified 30 more cities which need to be microzonized.
Along with this, many experiments are been done to observe and measure seismological activities proficiently, like a major ongoing experiment since 2016 is being done at Koyna, Maharashtra. Here scientists are going to observe the activities from a 3-km borehole for direct geophysical measurement.