23 Sept 2016 | GS 1 | Nearly 59 per cent of India’s land area is vulnerable to moderate or severe earthquakes. It shows how out of the total 304 million households in the country, about 95 per cent are vulnerable to earthquakes in different degrees. Discuss.

GS I (Earthquake) (Duplex)

Nearly 59 per cent of India’s land area is vulnerable to moderate or severe earthquakes.  It shows how out of the total 304 million households in the country, about 95 per cent are vulnerable to earthquakes in different degrees. Discuss.

Best answer

Narayana Sarma wrote the best answer for this question and got a score of 5/10. The answer is being reproduced below for everyone’s convenience. Of course these answers can always be improved. (Best answer  of a particular only involves those given on that day, later answers may not have been checked)

An earthquake, in simple words, is the shaking of earth due to release of tremendous energy from crust. This is called tectonic earthquake. The tremendous energy is released when two plates moving in opposite direction, overcome the friction resisting their movements. The Indian plate is moving at a speed of 1 cm per year towards north and northeast direction. This movement when obstructed by the Eurasian plate causes an earthquake. Earthquake’s intensity refers to the severity of the shake, measured in a descriptive ‘Mercalli scale.’ Earthquake’s magnitude is the quantitative measure of earthquake size at the source, measured using ‘Richter scale.’ The government has classified the earthquake prone zones into following five categories:
-Very high damage risk zone Eg: Western Himachal Pradesh, Indo-Nepal border, Kashmir valley, Gujarat especially Kucchh
-High damage risk zone Eg: Areas other than very high damage zones in Jammu and Kashmir, western Uttar Pradesh, northern Bihar
-Moderate damage risk zone Eg: Western coastal plains along Kerala, Maharashtra
-Low damage risk zone Eg: Tamil Nadu
-Very low damage risk zone Eg: Peninsular plateau, which is considered most stable
It should be noted that the state of Gujarat, a very high damage risk zone suffered a massive 7.9 magnitude earthquake in 2001.
Some of the impacts of earthquakes are:
-Loss of life and property
-Disruption of usual daily chores such as transportation, communication etc.
-Food and water crisis which may lead to violence and protests
However the damage can be mitigated by
-Having earthquake proof buildings
-Shifting to low risk zones
-Avoidance of loss of life and property through responsive measures such as deployment of Disaster Management Forces
-Sharing of technology proposed by Yokohama strategy, and establishing earthquake monitoring centres
-Following the model of Japan, which is very frequently hit by earthquakes, yet sustains and moves forward

The release of a seismic zoning map by the Government of India, is a step forward in this direction.

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