Was 1991 Uttarkashi quake caused by asteroid?


 Brig. K.G. Behl (Retd.)

Former Dy. Surveyor General, Survey of India, Dehradun

The 1991 earthquake in Uttarkashi was a  quake caused by  impact  of an Asteroid but was taken as an earthquake inspite of the fact that a number of incidents connected with it  prove that it was caused by the impact of Asteroid.

 The 1991 Uttarkashi earthquake occurred at 02:53:16 October 20 local time with a magnitude of 6.8  on the Richter Scale. This thrust event was instrumentally recorded and occurred along the Main Central thrust in the Uttarkashi and Garhwal regions of the Indian State of Uttarakhand. High intensity shaking resulted in the deaths of at least 768 people and the destruction of thousands of homes. The shake due to earthquake was not of the type which normally happens when  an earthquake takes place. People felt a jolt  with a sound and light unlike the rumbling sound accompanied by mild swing like action  which continues for quite some time.

 Though it was recorded like that officially but that was the time when a big Asteroid was going round the earth and NASA had warned that it may hit the earth at any place. Though nowhere such an impact has been reported but the way the earthquake of Uttarkashi took place it left many marks which go to prove that the asteroid had just brushed  the earth  at that point and caused all the damage which has later been linked with the plate movement and  with the epicenter, which was worked out as per the force.

To start with the quake which took place at  Uttarkashi was due to impact generated by the asteroid which brushed passed the earth at that point causing  lot of light and heat  which could be seen even at Dehradun and places far away  and made a sound of the type which two metallic bodies hit each other. People got surprised to notice brightness at night which never  comes out at the time of earthquake. The sound produced was unlike the rumbling sound which one normally experiences at the time of earthquake.  Secondly  at the place of this impact the changes which took place were not of the type which normally takes place with earthquake. In that region the bridges, the culverts  and electric poles and allied material got twisted unlike under the impact of  earthquake  where such items sink into the ground or otherwise get damaged.  The cracks in the houses and roads were also of the type which are caused by heavy impact and not by an earthquake.  The impact was so much that many of old houses even in Dehradun and adjoining places developed cracks which come out of the  force due to impact of asteroid with the earth and not an earthquake.  The damages reported at that time gave indication as if it was not an earthquake but an impact of the Asteroid which just brushed pass the area.  It was a mild impact as  seen from the  type of damages which took place. Had it been a bigger impact the damages would have been much more.

The worst affected areas were  located along the banks of the Bhagirathi valley, which is made up of soft alluvial soil. This soil was literally shaken by the quake and led to the collapse of houses and other buildings.

The point was raised by the author with the authorities concerned but there was no response as people were more concerned with providing relief and  help to the affected people. No studies were made on this aspect and inspite of the discussions which brew no action was thought appropriate at that time to open the issue. It was however noted from some of the places where earth faults have been observed that the quake has not caused any widening of faults which normally takes place if  an earthquake of that intensity takes place.

 As we know NASA pointed out that seven of the Halloween asteroids were discovered only that year, which were hurtling past Earth over thousands of years. Three of the space rocks are monsters of between 660 metres and 900 metres in length, big enough to wipe out life in much of a continent if they made a direct hit.

 Three others, from 230 to 410 metres long, would be likely to be disastrous to a whole country should they strike, with the remaining five, from just 18 metres to 110 metres, big enough to destroy or seriously affect a city the size of London.

The closest  pass will be the newly discovered asteroid 2016 UR36, which NASA estimates is between eight and 18 metres long.

The US Space Agency NASA had admitted in 1991, that they had discovered  about  30 new “near earth objects”  a week, and keeping a close watch on them as they cosmically brush past us. Though at that time it was thought that none of these asteroids hit the earth and  passed away without causing any damage but from the data available from the earthquake which took place in October 1991 at Uttarkashi,  it appears that it was not an earthquake but was a quake caused by an asteroid when it brushed passed  that part of  the earth.

 The 1991 earthquake in Uttarkashi was a  quake caused by  impact  of an Asteroid but was taken as an earthquake inspite of the fact that a number of incidents connected with it  prove that it was caused by the impact of Asteroid.

The recent researches  carried out by different departments on – site and laboratory experiments in the Himalayas predict an earthquake of  unprecedented scale is likely to hit the Uttarakhand region in view of  very old existing  faults from where the pressure may get released. This time the epicenter was quite far away and  deep inside the  earth,  the impact was not so much in Uttarakhand. But the Govt. should take it as a warning and stop all such activities which are likely to cause damage to life and property. It includes all those multi storied buildings where norms are not being followed in their construction or  where  those are being constructed in congested areas leaving very narrow lanes in between where in case of calamity necessary help may not be possible. It may be mentioned here that for providing relief  wider roads are required  as the fire brigade and other ambulances / vehicles have wide carriages and cannot enter the narrow streets specially when parts  of   those are likely to be covered with debris.

 The MDDA and Nagar Nigams etc. must review all those buildings which are very old  and  may not bear the jerks of  earthquake. Such buildings should be got vacated and demolished wherever possible so that  no loss of  life and personal property takes place.   Precautionary  safety measures should be introduced  and  teams deputed for disaster management  should be kept ready and equipped and  the rehearsals should be carried out  more frequently. Similarly in schools / colleges students should be trained   for  action during such calamities, where they can help not only self but others too. Wide publicity should be given to the public of measures they should adopt during such disaster.

Special attention should be paid to villages which are on the slopes of the hills or are located at unnatural destinations which are very close to the faults  or fractures found in earth where earthquakes are likely to make more damage. Those living very close to the rivers or dams should  also be suitably warned so that  calamities like Kedarnath Aapda are not repeated.

There are laid down drills for what should be done before, during and after earthquake. These should be given wide publicity so that less damage is done to life and property. We should not wait for the calamity to come but should prepare ourselves to meet the challenges   to reduce the intensity of  damages which are likely to take place.