Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Friday, Dec 31, 2004
Industry & Economy - Natural Calamities
Centre's warning on tsunami creates panic Home, S&T Ministries send confusing signals
New Delhi , Dec. 30
CONFLICTING signals from the Home Ministry and the Ministry of Science and Technology regarding the occurrence of a tsunami calamity along the Southern coast created considerable confusion across the country.
Hours after issuing an alert about the possibility of another tsunami hitting the southern coastal areas and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands, the Centre today clarified that there is no need to panic.
The Home Ministry, had on Thursday morning issued a warning of a likely tsunami encore across Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Lakshwadeep, Andhra Pradesh and the Andaman Nicobar Islands.
But later during the day, urging the relief agencies working in the tsunami-hit areas not to panic and to continue their work without any fear of danger of a calamity repeat, the Minister of State for Science and Technology, Mr Kapil Sibal, virtually lashed out at the Home Ministry. According to him, the Home Ministry's advisory was based on "external inputs".
Mr Sibal pointed out that the whole confusion started since "an information was received by our department from TerraResearch, located in Oregon, in the Western Coast of the US. It claimed that there is a possibility of an earthquake in the region from Sumatra to New Zealand. Following this, there is a possibility of tsunamis." He had "simply forwarded" that to the Home Ministry.
However, the Union Home Minister, Mr Shivraj Patil, told presspersons here, "We received information from the Science and Technology Ministry that there was a possibility of another tsunami. We discussed the issue as the information was that it may or may not take place."
Mr Sibal claimed that there was no technical or scientific instrument that could accurately predict an earthquake and, therefore, such fears were unfounded. "It is important that relief work continues unhindered. It is not in national interest for any agency to create panic among those who have already suffered," he said.
"There is no official warning that tsunami will hit the Eastern coast once again either in the next few hours or soon thereafter," maintained Mr Sibal.
Tsunamis occur only if earthquakes of the intensity of over 7.5 on the Richter scale hit the seafloor, but till today evening, the seismic data of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands had not crossed 6.2 on the Richter scale, said the Ministry of Science & Technology officials.
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