MAINS DAILY QUESTIONS & MODEL ANSWERS
Q1. Given how frequently large earthquakes have been reported in the media lately, it appears that their frequency is rising. Analyze and provide an overview of the world’s main earthquake zones.
GS III – Disaster Management related issues
- Unpredictably strong earthquakes are happening more often. The previous year’s average number of significant earthquakes exceeded the average for the previous 20 years. The occurrence of earthquakes has increased, as evidenced by the recent shocks in Turkey, Afghanistan, and Joshimath, Nepal. Based on the seismic database, around 1,300 earthquakes with a magnitude greater than five have occurred globally in the past year.
Principal causes of the global increase in earthquake activity:
- There have been fluctuations in the Earth’s rotational speed that could have led to strong seismic activity. Researchers explain that while though slight variations in the rotation can only affect the duration of a day by one millisecond, they frequently result in the release of enormous amounts of subterranean energy.
- There are other factors besides natural geomorphological phenomena that cause earthquakes. There is a rise in earthquakes caused by human activity in areas such as mining, nuclear blasts, and groundwater extraction. Data available indicates that over 728 earthquakes over the previous 149 years may have been caused by human activity.
- The frequency of man-made earthquakes is increasing as a result of poorly planned infrastructure projects including building dams, fracking for oil, and pumping gas without replenishing it.
- Scientists also regard the earth’s cooling as a factor in the rise in earthquakes. According to scientists, the earth’s crust contracts as a result of cooling, increasing volcanic disturbance that triggers earthquakes.
- According to a study, there has been a rise in earthquakes recently, but not because there have been significantly more earthquakes; rather, it is because more seismic equipment are available and can record more earthquakes.
- Large-scale geological processes have increased. Reactive seismic forces along faults, trenches, and the planet’s numerous subduction zones are propelled by these processes.
- With a convergence rate of 47 mm annually, the Indian tectonic plate is gradually displacing the Eurasian plate, especially when viewed from an Indian perspective. This area is becoming more vulnerable to earthquakes of a larger size as a result of the buildup of energy there.
Global Earthquake Zones:
- While earthquakes can occur anywhere at any moment, history reveals that they typically follow the same broad patterns, mostly in three major zones of the planet:
- The largest earthquake belt in the world, the circum-Pacific seismic belt, is located around the Pacific Ocean’s rim. It is the epicentre of approximately 81% of the planet’s major earthquakes. The belt is found along tectonic plate borders, when one plate—mostly one made of oceanic crust—is subducting—or sinking—beneath another plate. Slip between plates and plate rupturing are the main causes of earthquakes in these subduction zones.
- Examples of earthquakes that occurred in the circum-Pacific seismic region are the M9.2 Alaska Earthquake (1964) and the M9.5 Chilean Earthquake [Valdivia Earthquake] (1960).
- Alpide earthquake belt: The Alpide earthquake belt stretches from the Mediterranean, the Himalayas, the Atlantic Ocean, and Java to Sumatra. Approximately 17% of the greatest earthquakes in the globe are located in this area.
- Examples: The 2004 M9.1 earthquake in Indonesia caused a tsunami that claimed approximately 230,000 lives.
- Significant portions of Turkey and Syria were damaged by two recent significant earthquakes, one with a magnitude of 7.8 and the other of 7.6.
- Mid-Atlantic Ridge: The third notable belt is located after the mid-Atlantic Ridge, which is submerged. The diverging plate border, or the ridge, denotes the location where two tectonic plates are spreading apart. While the majority of the mid-Atlantic Ridge is submerged beneath the ocean and distant from populated areas, Iceland, which is situated right above the ridge, has seen multiple earthquakes.
- Examples: Since late October, more than 24,000 earthquakes have been registered in Iceland; recently, almost 1,400 earthquakes were recorded in a single day. Iceland is struck by about 26,000 earthquakes annually on average.
- The recent earthquakes that have claimed lives and damaged property have highlighted the significance of creating and implementing earthquake-resistant structures and enhanced safety protocols. It’s also important to take note of developments in earthquake-resistant technologies in nations like California and Japan.
Q2. What are the main features of the Forest Conservation Amendment Act, 2023? Discuss the issues raised by this act.
GS III – Environmental Conservation related issues
- Enacted in 1980, the Forest (Conservation) Act aims to stop extensive deforestation. Any diversion of forest land for uses other than forests requires consent from the central government. On August 2, 2023, a bill that would alter the Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980 was approved. The Forest (Conservation and Augmentation) Act 1980 will be the new name for it.
Important features of the 2023 Forest Conservation Amendment Act
- Preamble Insertion: The Act’s scope has been expanded with the addition of a Preamble. Additionally, the Act’s name has been changed to Van (Sanrakshan Evam Samvardhan) Adhiniyam, 1980 to ensure that the potential of its provisions is reflected in the name. Finally, the Act’s scope of applicability has been clarified to remove any ambiguities.
- places covered by the Act: The amendment states that the 1927 Forest Act and any places recognised as such on or after October 25, 1980, are the only areas to which the forest legislation will now apply.
- Exempt categories of land: The Act will not apply to land where the central government can construct linear projects less than 100 kilometres from the boundary between China and Pakistan, or to forests that were converted for non-forest use on or after December 12, 1996.
- Leasing and assignment of forest property: In order to create consistency, the Principal Act’s current provisions pertaining to leasing or assignment of forest land to private enterprises have been expanded to include government corporations.
- Authority to issue directives: The Act stipulates that any authority or organisation recognised by the federal government, a state, or a union territory (UT) may receive directives from the central government on the Act’s implementation.
- New Activities: The changes expand the range of forestry activities for the conservation of forests by including new ones including ecotourism, zoos, safaris, and infrastructure for frontline forest workers.
Issues with the 2023 Forest Conservation Amendment Act:
- Against the Supreme Court of India’s 1996 order: The act contradicted the Supreme Court of India’s pre-existing definition of a forest, which stated that any patches of trees listed as forests in any government records would automatically become deemed forests regardless of ownership, recognition, or classification.
- Encroachment via infrastructure development: Under this, a sizable forest area may be cleared for infrastructure development, which will have an impact on the local ecology, way of life, and livelihood of the nation’s many tribal people.
- Development of ecotourism, safaris, and zoos on forest grounds: These establishments, together with eco-parks, are allowed inside forest regions. This will put a great deal of strain on the environment, causing a decline in the health of the forest and serious disruptions to animal migration and their habitats.
- Tribal livelihoods and forest exploitation: By allowing private, capital-oriented companies or firms to use forest land for ecotourism and the construction of other infrastructure facilities for tourist leisure, the changes further enhanced the likelihood of forest exploitation.
- Top-down authority: Because forests are included in a concurrent list that allows both the federal government and the states to take action towards forest conservation, power is now likewise concentrated in the hands of the federal government. Opposition to the section exempting linear projects of strategic significance within a 100-kilometer radius of international boundaries was voiced by states such as Nagaland, Sikkim, Mizoram, and Tripura.
- The MoEFCC should carry out a thorough loss and benefit assessment study of the changes to verify the actual implementation reality on forest ecology, wildlife, and local and tribal people’s means of subsistence. In summary, greater inclusivity and local involvement by the central government will improve openness, decision-making, and the execution of Act rules and regulations.