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Question – Examine the vulnerability of India to the earthquakes and propose short, medium and long-term actions to alleviate the risks associated. – 16 June 2021
An Earthquake Disaster Risk Index (EDRI), prepared by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in association with IIIT-Hyderabad here, showed that about 56% area of India is vulnerable to moderate to major earthquakes where about 82% of the population live.
Earthquakes have by far been the most unpredictable and devastating of disasters. India has seen some of the biggest earthquakes in the last century. At the beginning of the century, the devastating Kutch earthquake occurred in 2001. Other major earthquakes in India were in Latur (1993) and Jammu and Kashmir (2005).
Reasons for earthquake in India:
- The major reason for the high frequency and intensity of earthquakes is that the Indian plate is moving at a rate of about 47 mm/yr.
- Collisions between the Himalayan Belt, the Indo-Australian Plate with the Eurasian Plate and the Burma Plate with the Java Sumatra Plate. This collision causes a great strain in the energy of the underlying rocks, which is released in the form of earthquakes.
- Andaman and Nicobar Islands: Sea floor spread and underwater volcanoes that disturb the balance of the earth’s surface.
- Construction activities, increasing population and unscientific land use make India a high risk land for earthquakes.
India needs to be aware of the danger of earthquake. India also needs to take short, medium and long term action.
Short term measure
Such planning involves identifying vulnerable buildings and planning for the safety of their occupants.
Medium Term Measures:
- Removal of vulnerable structures in highly seismic areas.
- Involve communities in the process of disaster mitigation through education and awareness.
- Preparation of disaster related literature in local languages (Do’s and Don’ts)
- Networking of local NGOs working in the field of disaster management.
Long term measure
- There is a need to reduce the population density of the cities which are most prone to earthquakes.
- Remodeling of building codes, guidelines, manuals and regulations and their strict implementation. Tough legislation for highly seismic areas.
- Incorporate earthquake resistant features in all buildings in high risk areas.
- To make all public utilities like water supply system, communication network, power lines earthquake-proof. Creating alternative arrangements to reduce the loss of infrastructure.
- Construction of earthquake-resistant community buildings and buildings (used to gather large groups during or after an earthquake) such as schools, hospices, hospitals, prayer halls, etc., especially in seismic zones of moderate to high intensity.
- To support R&D in various aspects of disaster mitigation, preparedness and prevention and post-disaster management.
- To develop educational curriculum in architectural and engineering institutions and technical training in polytechnics and schools to include disaster related subjects.
“It is not the disaster, but the lack of preparedness for the disaster, that causes the death”. Emergency preparedness programs aim to achieve promising levels of preparedness to respond to any emergency situation through programs that strengthen the technical and managerial capacity of governments, organizations and communities. Thus, disaster preparedness is the most important component in disaster management.