Earthquake Management – UPSC GS3

Why some parts in India are more prone to earthquake?
  • Himalayan belt – Collision between lithological plates i.e. Indo-Austral plate with Eurasian plate; and Burma Plate with Java Sumatra plate. This collision between two continental plates cause lots of strain in underlying rocks. This strain is released in form of earthquakes
  • Andaman and Nicobar Islands-Sea floor displacement and underwater volcanoes disturb the equilibrium of earth’s surface
What are the measure needed to manage an earthquake?
According to the seismologists, the earthquake itself is not the killer, but it is the unpreparedness among the society, in terms of inadequate infrastructure, which kills thousands.
Measures needed
  1. Risk recognition – The fact that there is a risk first needs to be recognised. People need to be made aware of this risk.
  2. Risk mapping –  risk mapping of the areas in the region and divide them into zones depending upon amount of risk involved.
  3. Risk mitigation – This required investment in R&D to develop cost effective quake-resistant designs. As this cannot be taken up commercially, public funding is very important. Indigenous knowledge should also be used and disseminated. E.g..- Assam tupe house or ikora style– these houses are made with walls of bamboo or reed mesh (ikora) and plaster set in a wooden framework. They have light tin roofs and wooden floors that are quake-resistant. The buildings are light, flexible and able to move with the swaying caused by tremors, without there being extensive casualties or damages.
  4. Mock Drills
  5. Curriculum changes ( NCERT has already introduced Disaster Management)
Lessons from japan:
  1. In japan, compliance of quake-resistant buildings is 80%.
  2. It uses earthquake early warning system which triggers an alert when seismic waves are detected. Since electric signals travel faster than seismic waves, the lead time is used to alert people via media, internet and also trains, elevators, industrial machines are automatically stopped. Such tech solutions can help reduce destruction of like and property.
  3. Japan provides tax incentives to people who build quake-resistant buildings. Such economic incentives could be used in India in high risk areas to ensure that people build quake-sensitive buildings.
Steps taken by Government:
The government launched two Mobile apps –
  • ‘India Quake’ for dissemination of earthquake parameters.
  • ‘Sagar Vani’ to disseminate ocean related information and alerts (like high waves and Tsunami early warnings) to the user community in timely manner for their safety.
Related Questions:
  • In the light of recent earthquake that crippled Nepal’s economy and caused huge loss of lives of people, critically examine what policy measures needed to manage earthquake disasters. Also examine, if Japan’s experience in managing these disasters can be emulated in India and Nepal. (200 Words)
  • You are working as District Collector in a remote district in one of India’s North eastern states prone to frequent natural disasters. Recently a massive earthquake struck your district causing huge loss of property and lives. The situation is demanding urgent but careful relief measures to protect lives and offer humanitarian assistance to affected population. You are made in charge of relief work. How will you manage the situation? What will be your priorities? Discuss. (200 Words)

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