Date(s) - 09/04/2016 - 11/04/2016
Categories No Categories
MHA has already declared at the beginning of 2016 that a major earthquake is yet to strike the Himalayan region which could be much stronger than the Nepal earthquake. This calls for an urgent need for preparedness in the eight states of north-east India which lie in the Zone 5, that is, ‘very severe intensity zone’. The North-East has experienced a number of earthquakes of severe intensity and landslides. The landslides on many occasions are triggered off by heavy rains which have been a regular feature of this area. As per USGS, moderate to large earthquakes in this region are fairly common with at least 18 severe earthquakes measuring above 7 on the Richter scale having occurred in the last 100 years. Seismicity in the Himalayan region dominantly results from the continental collision of the India and Eurasia tectonic plates which are converging at a relative rate of 40-50 mm/yr. The Himalayas being relatively young in geological age, the northward under-thrusting of the Indian plate beneath Eurasia generates frequent earthquakes and consequently makes this area one of the most seismically hazardous regions on earth.
- As a priority we need an estimate of the population of human and non-human living beings to be affected. After which we assess the property in terms of land, agriculture and immovable household and state property which would be lost. We make a tentative assessment of livelihood losses and psychosomatic affect on population surviving this quake.
- The above information would then be compared to the available and required institutions and administrative personnel, state and community capacity, paramedics, hospitals and accessibility standards in technology and the available budget.
- Action required enhancing capacity through partnerships wherever possible, streamlining laws and procedures for quick decision making and generate local and community leadership.
NORTH-EAST A BIODIVERSITY HOT SPOT:
To qualify a hotspot, a region must meet two strict criteria: it must contain at least 1,500 species of vascular plants as endemic and it has to have lost at least 70% of its original habitat. This region represents an important part of the Indo-Myanmar biodiversity hotspot, one of the 34 global biodiversity hotspots recognized in 2005. Even though the forest-cover is 64% of the total geographical area this is constantly deteriorating into barren and unproductive wastelands. The dense forest cover is almost one third of the total forest cover. Land is under constant threat due to human pressure, an ever increasing density of population and an unmanageable socio-economic vulnerability. Besides, an ever shortening Jhum cycle, the other human influences have caused environmental degradation with disastrous consequences for each state. This region is described (Ramakantha V., Gupta A.K. Kumar Ajith (2003) Biodiversity of Northeast India-An Overview, Envis Bulletin: Wildlife and Protected Areas. 4: (1) 1–24) as the section of northward moving ‘Deccan Peninsula’ which touched the Asian landmass after the breakaway of Gondwanaland in the early tertiary period. It is therefore referred to as the geographical ‘gateway’ for much of India’s flora and fauna. It is in this lowland-highland transition zone that the highest diversity of biomes or ecological communities can be found, and species diversities within these communities are also extremely high. Consumerism and disposable culture has already started replacing the environmentally sustainable economy of households and attracting unscrupulous urban traders and middlemen in their daily lives. A very large number of water reservoirs, proposed dams and reduction of water bodies may lead to severe ecological crisis, disturbances in the tectonic plates in an otherwise safer land of rainforests. Lack of or weak implementations of comprehensive environmental impact assessments, which are otherwise mandatory as per the law of the land, reveal the vulnerability of this biodiversity rich region.
Northeastern India is a repository of larger land area covered with forests and biodiversity, relatively low population density, higher literacy levels and a reasonable male-female ratio. How to convert some of these indigenous assets into a workable plan for resilience building is the challenge which this workshop seeks to address. Times have changed and communities affected by disasters can themselves become the harbingers and soldiers of risk reduction and mitigation. From the planning stage where addressing the carrying capacity of land and land based natural assets communities could be helped to enhance their available knowledge systems for appropriate construction, rescue points and design of technology, there are multifarious ways in which government could facilitate the process of DRR. This brings out the importance of urban planning and disaster resilient buildings in areas of high seismicity.
The existing building structures and building codes need to be analyzed in the context of earthquake safety. The recent earthquake is another warning for both the authorities and citizens to wake up to the reality. With the technology for disaster-resilient construction now available, it is necessary to make it easily available to every citizen. The cost of using disaster-resilient technology raises the construction cost by about 15 percent. But, failing to spend this may bring a loss of almost seven times this cost. A UN Report mentions that every dollar spent on disaster reduction leads to the saving of unto seven dollars by way of reducing loss of life and damage to property.
Our scientists and engineers need to constantly come up with innovative and cost-effective measures in working closely with government while the social scientists need to work on enhancing resilience of communities facing the threat of disasters. The focus within administration since Hyogo 2005 and later Sendai…..has shifted from merely rescue and rehabilitation to prevention and mitigation. The Disaster Management Act, 2005 has laid down the blue-print for a strong institutional framework to ensure better preparedness on the part of all stakeholder right from the level of the State to the district, Taluk and Panchayat/ Village levels.