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Next big Himalayan earthquake: Doon Valley watch out

The network of GPS sites in the Garhwal Himalayas, the densest anywhere along the Himalayan arc, “provides the most reliable estimate of spatial variations of site velocities in the Himalayas,” the authors say.

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The Garhwal-Kumaon segment of the northwest (NW) Himalayas is seismically the “most vulnerable section” of the region with a potential to generate great earthquakes, warns a new study by researchers from multiple institutions in India.

Their findings, reported in the journal “Earth and Planetary Science Letters”, is based on analysis of five years (2013-2018) of continuous GPS measurements from 28 stations located in the Garhwal-Kumaon Himalayas and the adjoining Indo-Gangetic plains.

Lifted by the subduction of the Indian tectonic plate under the Eurasian Plate, the Himalayan mountain range runs in an arc, about 2,400-km long, separating the plains of the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau.

Partly in India and partly in western Nepal, the NW Himalayas have not experienced a great earthquake since at least 1505, Vineet Gahalaut director of the National Centre for Seismology in New Delhi and corresponding author of the paper, told this correspondent.

An analysis of GPS measurements of crustal deformation suggests “strong seismic coupling” underneath Garhwal-Kumaon region, he said. Strong inter-plate coupling means the fault below Garhwal-Kumaon segment is “locked” and capable of accumulating stress. The width of the coupled region, according to the report, is estimated to be about 85 km.

This strongly-coupled region must have accumulated a “slip” of more than 7 meters since the last earthquake in 1505 “which is enough to produce a great earthquake in the region”, the researchers claim. Slip is the relative displacement of formerly adjacent points on opposite sides of a fault.

According to their report, GPS measurements found the convergence rate in this part of the Himalayas is about 18 millimeters per year which has continued for more than 500 years — making this slice of the geological fault “one of the most earthquake-vulnerable segments of the Himalayan arc.”

The network of GPS sites in the Garhwal Himalayas, the densest anywhere along the Himalayan arc, “provides the most reliable estimate of spatial variations of site velocities in the Himalayas,” the authors say.

“The derived coupling map from GPS measurements has implications for seismic hazard in the Garhwal-Kumaon region,” says the report, adding that the regions of high-coupling would be the regions of high seismic energy release during future earthquakes.

“Taking the analogy from the 2015 Gorkha earthquake and 1985 Mexico earthquake, the sediment filled valleys, such as the Dehradun valley in the Garhwal region, are expected to be the regions of potentially more damage in future events.”

This has serious implications in terms of seismic hazards, the report says, “as the population density is higher in the frontal Himalayas and its contiguous Indo-Gangetic plains, thus exposing more people to high, near-field ground shaking.”

Besides this, the unconsolidated sediments in the Indo-Gangetic plains can cause more structural damage during earthquakes and also liquefaction — wherein saturated soil behaves more like a liquid than a solid — as happened in the 1934 Nepal-Bihar earthquake, says the report.

Besides Gahalaut, the study team included scientists from Institute of Seismological Research, Gandhinagar; National Geophysical Research Institute, Hyderabad; V.C.S.G. Uttarakhand University of Horticulture and Forestry, Pauri; Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehradun and G.B. Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment & Sustainable Development, Almora.

Chittenipattu Puthenveettil Rajendran, seismologist at the Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru, says the study “reiterates an earlier premise that the central Himalaya is strongly coupled and is waiting to break in a great earthquake anytime sooner”.

The Garhwal-Kumaon segment of the Himalayan arc (including parts of Nepal and India) never had a great earthquake during the last 600-700 years, Rajendran told this correspondent. “That means more than 20 meters of seismic slip is accumulated over these years, which can be released only by one or more great earthquakes (Mw >8.5) in the region.”

“This poses a serious hazard for the Himalayan region and the heavily-populated adjacent Gangetic alluvial plains — not seriously considered by the government,” Rajendran noted.

(K.S. Jayaraman is a veteran science journalist. He can be contacted at [email protected])

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International Day of Persons with Disabilities: Theme, Date and history of the day

International Day of Persons with Disabilities: It aims to increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disabilities and celebrate their achievements and contributions.

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International Day of Persons with Disabilities

International Day of Persons with Disabilities is an international observance promoted by the United Nations since 1992. It is celebrated on December 3 all around the world. It aims to increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disabilities and celebrate their achievements and contributions.

IDPD mobilizes support for critical issues relating to the inclusion of persons with disabilities, promotes awareness-raising about disability issues and draws attention to the benefits of an inclusive and accessible society for all.

UN agencies, civil society organizations, academic institutions and the private sector are motivated to support IDPD by collaborating with organizations for people with disabilities to arrange events and activities.

International Day of People with Disability: Theme

The theme for IDPwD 2020 is “Building Back Better: toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 World”.

Every year the UN announces a theme to observe for International Day of People with Disability. The annual theme provides an overarching focus on how society can strive for inclusivity through the removal of physical, technological and attitudinal barriers for people with disabilities.

This has been occurring since 1992 when the General Assembly announced 3 December as the International Day of Disabled Persons.

National Disability Strategy 2010–2020

In Australia, the National Disability Strategy 2010–2020 commits all governments to a nationwide approach aimed at improving the lives of disabled people, their families and carers.

The Strategy’s ten-year national framework for reform concentrates on better inclusion for people with disabilities and seeks to create a society that enables people with disabilities to fulfill their potential as equal citizens.

On the 2012 International Day of People with Disability, the United Kingdom government introduced mandatory work for disabled people who received welfare benefits in order to “Improve disabled peoples chances of getting work by mandatory employment”.

A program is also launched on December 3 across India to serve the differently-able community of the country as an initiative called Accessible India Campaign under the Article 9 of UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD)

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BJP leaders brainstorm for second day, say govt ready for talks with farmers

Union Home Minister Amit Shah met Agriculture Minister Narender Singh Tomar earlier in the day to discuss the strategy to break the logjam.

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Farmers on Protest

Eager to break the deadlock with famers who are agitating for scrapping the new farm laws, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership held meetings for a second consecutive day on Monday and sent out the message that the Union government is ready for talks.

Union home minister Amit Shah met Union minister for agriculture, NS Tomar earlier in the day to discuss the strategy to break the logjam. A senior party functionary said, “The message from the top is clear that the laws are not anti-farmers and that the farmers are being misled. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reiterated that laws will offer better opportunity for the farmers.”

The functionary said the government is ready to sit across the table and discuss the new laws and “address whatever concerns” the farmers have.

Speaking in Varanasi, the PM on Monday said the laws have given farmers new options and legal protection. He lashed out at the opposition for “misleading” the farmers and said earlier decisions of government were opposed now rumours have become the basis for opposition and propaganda is being served even though the laws favour the farmers.

The party has also opted for a cautious, measured response to the agitation. Even though it is pinning the blame on the opposition for provoking the protest, it is taking care not to rile the farmers. “The farmers are innocent. They are being misled by those with vested interests. The laws have barely been implemented and their impact is yet to be ascertained, so how can people rush to call these anti-farmers,” said Rajkuamr Chahar, head of the BJP’s Kisan Morcha.

He said the Punjab unit of the Morcha has been communicating with the farmers’ representatives and has relayed the government’s willingness to address their concerns.

On Monday, even as the party tried to diffuse the anger against the bills, its ally the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) joined the chorus for the rollback of the laws. Rajasthan lawmaker and RLP chief, Hanuman Beniwal, shot off a letter to Shah, seeking the reversal of the laws.

“….In view of the countrywide sentiment in support of the ongoing farmers’ movement, the recently introduced three bills related to agriculture should be immediately withdrawn. (The Centre must) implement all recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission, and immediately hold dialogue with farmers in Delhi,” he said.

The BJP, however, played down the ally’s demand. Its national spokesperson on economic issues, Gopal Krishna Agarwal said, “We assure all, including our NDA partners that farmers’ well-being and welfare are in our heart. Large scale market reforms are needed and that has always been the consensus.”

He went on to add that while the BJP opposes misgivings about the APMC mandis being dismantled and MSP being withdrawn, the opposition is politicizing the issue along with the Arhtiyas (commission agents) and middleman.

“We have offered all the basic facilities to farmers, drinking water, toilets, shelters and medical facilities. They have been given permission to protest and also been invited for dialogue. We are open for all discussions on the merits or demerits of the three bills. If farmers have certain serious concerns, we are ready to listen to them,” he said.

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Lunar Eclipse: Chant these mantras for peace during Chandra Grahan

Check out the Chandra Beej Mantra, Dhanvantari Mantra, Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra and Shanti Path given below to ward off the ill-effects of this celestial movement.

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Lunar eclipse

Lunar Eclipse 2020: The fourth and the last Upachaya Chandra Grahan (Penumbral Lunar Eclipse) of 2020 will take place today. Though Sutak is not applicable during Upachaya Chandra Grahan, the constant movements of the Grahas (planets) may cast an impact on zodiac signs. It may influence people’s natal charts. Hence, people must chant mantras to negate the negative effect of Grahan.

The Lunar Eclipse will have a duration of 4 hours and 18 minutes. It will begin on Monday at 1.04 pm and reach its peak at 3.13 pm. The Lunar Eclipse will end at 5.22 pm and will have a magnitude of 0.82.

Check out the Chandra Beej Mantra, Dhanvantari Mantra, Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra and Shanti Path given below to ward off the ill-effects of this celestial movement.

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