Activation of Almora fault led to increase in earthquakes in 2023, says Rijiju

Data indicates an increase in earthquake activity in 2023, which was mainly attributed to the activation of the Almora fault in western Nepal, Kiren Rijiju, Union minister of earth sciences, told the Lok Sabha. 

This activation triggered significant main shock earthquakes on January 24, 2023 (magnitude 5.8), October 3, 2023 (magnitude 6.2), and November 3, 2023 (magnitude 6.4). These main shocks, accompanied by subsequent aftershocks, have led to an increased frequency of earthquakes in the year 2023. However, the background seismicity remained unchanged during this period, Rijiju said. 

135 million escaped multidimensional poverty

About 135 million people moved out of multidimensional poverty between 2015-16 and 2019-21, Rao Inderjit Singh, minister of state (independent charge) of the Union ministry of statistics and programme implementation, told the Lok Sabha.

Central public policy think tank NITI Aayog released the National Multidimensional Poverty Index: A Progress Review 2023 on July 17, 2023 in partnership with United Nations Development Programme and Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative.  

A steep decline was reported in the number of multidimensionally poor people, to 14.96 per cent in 2019-21 from 24.85 per cent in 2015-16, the minister said.

Internet accessibility

The number of internet users has increased from 251.5 million in March 2014 to 881.2 million in March 2023, Ashwini Vaishnaw, Union minister of railways, communications, electronics and information technology told the Lok Sabha.

As of September 2023, around 616,300 villages out of 644,131 have mobile connectivity in the country, including 42,733 in Rajasthan, the minister said. 

Tsunami preparedness

Tsunamis cannot be prevented, but their impact can be mitigated through timely warnings, community awareness and preparedness and an effective response, Rijiju told the Lok Sabha. 

The Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) has conducted about 15 workshops / trainings on tsunami awareness and preparedness for the East Coast of India. 

In coordination with the National Disaster Management Authority, INCOIS has conducted 12 tsunami exercises or drills for the East Coast of India. The recent tsunami mock exercise IOWave23 conducted in October 2023 was a great example of tsunami preparedness, in which more than 40,000 people participated, the minister said.

Heat action plans

The vulnerability atlas for heatwaves indicates 13 per cent of the districts and 15 per cent of the population are moderate to very highly vulnerable and 4 per cent of the districts and 7 per cent of the population are highly vulnerable. 

Rajasthan (15 districts) and Andhra Pradesh (13 districts) are the most vulnerable states for heatwaves, Rijiju told the Lok Sabha.

The minister was referring to the Climate Hazards and Vulnerability Atlas of India prepared by the India Meteorological Department (IMD), which covers thirteen most hazardous meteorological events including heatwaves.

Impact of heat waves

Being a tropical country, India is prone to heatwave conditions, Rijiju told the Lok Sabha. In general, north, central and north peninsular India experience heatwave from March to June every year. Normally, 4-8 days of heatwave conditions prevail over these areas in the summer. These statistics are based on the data for the period of 1961-2020. 

However, some areas covering Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, West Rajasthan, East Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Vidarbha, Odisha, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh experience more than eight days of heatwave conditions in a year, the minister said.

The meteorological sub-divisions that experienced the most number of heatwave days during the season of March-June 2023 are Gangetic West Bengal, Bihar, Coastal Andhra Pradesh and Yanam, Odisha with 34, 31, 21 and 18 days, respectively.

Environmental damage due to NHAI Projects

The National Green Tribunal, in an order dated October 29, 2021, directed National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to set aside Rs 129 crore, which is tentative cost for implementing an environment management plan and cost of restoring damage to the environment, Nitin Gadkari, Union minister of road transport and highways, told the Rajya Sabha.

NHAI endeavours to ensure compliance with all the statutory conditions and directions of the tribunal / courts. Further, wherever deficiencies are observed, necessary remedial measures are taken to restore the same, Gadkari said.

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