Discuss the vulnerability of India to earthquake-related hazards. Give examples including the salient features of major disasters caused by earthquakes in different parts of India during the last three decades. (150 words) [2021]

India is vulnerable to earthquakes due to its location on a seismically active zone and the fact that the Indian landmass is penetrating into the Eurasian plate. Densely populated areas, unscientific constructions, and unplanned urbanization have increased the risks associated with earthquakes in India. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands, as well as regions in the Himalayan foothills, are particularly vulnerable to earthquakes and their related hazards, such as landslides and liquefaction. The use of high-technology equipment and underground utilities has also increased the susceptibility to disruption from relatively moderate ground shaking.

India has experienced several major disasters caused by earthquakes over the last three decades, including the following:

  • The 1993 Latur earthquake had a magnitude of 6.2 and caused large surface damage due to its relatively shallow depth. The causes of the earthquake remain debatable due to the lack of plate boundaries in the region.
  • The 1999 Chamoli earthquake was caused by a thrust fault and resulted in landslides, changes in surface water flow, surface rupture, and disconnected valleys.
  • The 2001 Bhuj earthquake was associated with a reactivated fault that was previously unknown and caused great loss of life and property due to unmindful construction.
  • The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami was caused by under-water seismic activity and created massive waves that flooded coastal areas and islands, causing long-term changes.
  • The 2005 Kashmir earthquake had a magnitude of 7.6 and was caused by the severe upthrust of the Indian plate against the Eurasian plate. It created multiple aftershocks and disrupted infrastructure and communication.

These disasters highlight the importance of preparing for and mitigating the effects of earthquakes in India.

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