Varanasi: While scientists, across the world, say that there is no way as yet to predict earthquakes, one man begs to differ. In the by lanes of Varanasi's Chittanpura locality, lives Shakeel Ahmad, a 'cloud reader'.
Ahmed claims that for the past two decades, he has been studying the shapes, sizes and movements of clouds, and has been using that knowledge to predict earthquakes and their intensity. Ahmad says his predictions have a scientific basis. "The clouds form a particular mosaic pattern when an earthquake is round the corner. This is not a myth. I can prove it scientifically," he said.
The 62-year-old, who makes cardboard boxes for a living, says he developed the hobby of watching clouds and studying their patterns very early in life.
Three days before the earthquake struck Nepal and northern India, Ahmad said that he had e-mailed his predictions to the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) and the US Geological Survey (USGS), but did not receive any response.
"I had predicted the earthquake in Gujarat in 2001 and then in Kashmir in 2005, and also quakes that have occurred in other parts of the world. I regularly e-mail my predictions to ISDR secretariat, the USGS, all important ministries in India and even media houses, but no one takes me seriously. They do not even revisit my predictions after they come true," he said.
"After years of cloud watching I realised that clouds form a peculiar and particular pattern before earthquakes or heavy rains. I did a lot of self-study and then I matched my predictions with actual incidents of earthquakes and found that I had made accurate predictions," he explained.
Shakeel Ahmad has set up what he calls the Varanasi Ionospheric and Atmospheric Centre and Earthquake Centre, which he runs from his home. He calls himself its director.
"I am really saddened by the fact that no one takes me seriously. Anyone can check the e-mails that I send to various officials and verify whether or not they have been accurate. I feel bad because many lives could have been saved if the authorities took note of my predictions," he said.
He said that after studying the movement of clouds after the lunar eclipse on June 5/6, there was a possibility of Delhi facing another earthquake in the coming days.
"There have been cloud formations which have led to a series of minor earthquakes in Delhi-NCR," he said adding that if the clouds remain stationary in the western direction, the possibility of an earthquake cannot be ruled out.