A series of unexplained, low-intensity tremors being felt on a daily basis in two separate pockets in south Mumbai over the last few weeks have forced office-goers to ask for a detailed seismological investigation of the area.
The offices being affected include the higher floors in a row of buildings, particularly Bharat House and Apollo House, at Bombay Samachar Marg in Kala Ghoda, and the Western Railway's headquarters and administrative buildings on both sides of the road at Churchgate.The tremors occur between 4 and 6 pm every day, almost like clockwork, and last about 2-3 seconds.
Western Railway has written a letter to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) asking them to look into the matter, trace the cause of the tremors, and advise if there is any potential danger to the buildings. When contacted, Sharat Chandrayan, the chief public relations officer at WR, confirmed: "Certain employees working on the higher floors of the administrative building were feeling tremors at certain times of the day. We have sent a letter to the IMD to conduct a thorough scientific investigation."
Though Chandrayan declined to give any further details, another WR official, who asked not to be named, said: "The tremors were first experienced in the south-east corner of the heritage (Headquarters) building, where the Chief Operations Manager sits. Now they are also being felt on the top floor of glass-facade Administrative building above the railway station, particularly in the auditing and construction departments."
Over in Kala Ghoda, the daily tremors started about a month ago. "We dismissed them initially, but they've now become a regular phenomenon. Our bosses initially thought it was hoax, but realised it was a serious complaint once they felt the tremors as well," Sachin Rajguru, an employee of Bharat Lines, a shipping company that has an office on fourth floor of Bharat House, told Mumbai Mirror.
Similarly, Kamlesh Jaiswal, who works at Batliboi, which has an office on fifth floor of the same building, confirmed that the tremors were the talk of his workplace as well. "We experience tremors for a few moments every day. They always happen sometime between 4 pm and 5 pm. It's a scary situation because no one seems to know what's causing them."
BK Vatsaraj, head of Vatsaraj & Co chartered accountants, which has an office on fourth floor of Bharat House said, "We're really concerned about these tremors. I've already asked the landlords of the building, the Kamdars, to take immediate steps to get to the bottom of the issue. The landlords had appointed a structural engineer, who has been unable to provide any clear answers."
When contacted, Dr More Ramulu, the principal scientist with the Centre of Scientific and Industrial Research, Nagpur, offered a possible explanation. "Due to the proximity to the sea, it is likely that waves accumulate during high-tide," he said. "Continuous input of energy may be causing what we call mini-earthquakes. These are common due to adjustments in the Earth's crust, but tremors are seldom felt. Normally the tremors stop once the adjustment in the crust ends. But it must be investigated to see if these small tremors are an indication of something bigger in the offing."
But V K Rajiv, the director of IMD, Mumbai, said: "There have been no earthquakes recorded in the recent weeks by the seismology department to explain the phenomenon." So the mystery continues, pending a full inquiry by IMD.