Quake fear grips Tripura Raj Bhavan

April 17th, 2011 - 1:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Agartala, April 17 (IANS) Concerned over earthquakes hitting Tripura, Governor Dnyandeo Yashwantrao Patil has expressed his keenness to shift residence from the 95-year-old Raj Bhavan building in Agartala, according to officials.

The fear has also spread to the state’s legislative assembly building, where lawmakers feel it’s time they moved out from the 110-year-old structure.

“Tripura has occasionally been hit by quakes. The governor seriously expressed his wish to shift from the Raj Bhavan to a newly built state guest house,” a top official, who did not want to be identified, told IANS.

The fear over quakes has increased in Tripura after the massive earthquake followed by tsunami that hit Japan March 11, claiming thousands of lives and causing all-round destruction.

The north-eastern region of India, that includes Tripura, falls in Zone V, the sixth worst quake-prone belt in the world, according to geological studies.

“We have already decided to built a new Raj Bhavan at Khejur Bagan, eight kilometres north of Agartala, and turn the present Raj Bhavan building into a Rabindra Museum,” the official said.

He added: “As a tribute to the great Nobel laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore’s 150th birth anniversary the state government would set up a museum and research centre at the Pushpavant Palace, currently the governor’s residence (Raj Bhavan). Tagore had visited Tripura seven times between 1899 and 1926.”

The Nobel laureate stayed in the palace during his last visit to the state in February 1926.

The Pushpavant Palace was constructed in early 1917 by the then king Maharaja Birendra Kishore Manikya (1909-1923).

The official, however, said that if the governor shifts from Raj Bhavan to the state guest house, it would be a problem for both officials and security personnel and the governor himself.

The Tripura government officials and ministers are trying to convince the governor to stay at the Raj Bhavan till the new building was constructed.

“The state government has asked the PWD (public works department) engineers to speed up the works on the construction of the new Raj Bhavan,” the official said.

There is concern over the legislative assembly building as well.

Congress legislator Gopal Roy, voicing his worry, recently told Speaker Ramendra Chandra Debnath: “Sir, we should move away from this 110-year-old palace (currently the assembly house) because we may get killed if a quake hits the state.”

Roy reminded the speaker that the north-eastern region has been frequently experiencing earthquakes.

The two-storeyed mansion Ujjayanta Palace, at present the Tripura legislative assembly, was built by then Maharaja Radhakishore Manikya Bahadur in 1899-1901. It was the command centre of the erstwhile princely rulers.

A major earthquake that struck Agartala in 1897 had caused substantial damage to the palace that was then under construction.

The Geological Survey of India had earlier notified that the mountainous north-eastern region could experience major earthquakes.

Assam experienced a massive tremor measuring 8.5 on the Richter scale Aug 15, 1950, that claimed some 1,500 lives.

The worst quake, measuring 8.7, was felt in the region in 1897. It killed 1,600 people.

(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at sujit.c@ians.in)

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