Himachal Pradesh in high-risk seismic zones, yet buildings not earthquake-resistant
Himachal Pradesh which falls in the high-risk, high-intensity seismic zones IV and V. Successive state governments strengthened disaster response but left most of the public and private buildings non-resistant to tremors. Of the 25,75,947 (25.7 lakh) structures that state counted in 2011, it found 14,64,458 (14.6 lakh) or 56.8% in the unsafe category A, of mud walls and unburnt-clay bricks. Another 10,07,568 (10 lakh) or 39.11% of the structures were in category B, of burnt bricks. None of the categories are resistant to earthquake.
A high-intensity earthquake is more catastrophic in the mountains, for it triggers landslides, rockslides, and avalanches. Seven Himachal Pradesh districts – Chamba, Kullu, Kangra, Una, Hamirpur, Mandi, and Bilaspur – are in the very high damage risk seismic zone V, while five districts – Shimla, Kinnaur, Lahaul-Spiti, and Sirmaur – fall in the high damage risk seismic zone IV. More than 90% of Hamirpur, Kangra, and Mandi is prone to “destructive” earthquakes measured by the Medvedev-Sponheuer-Karnik (MSK) scale of intensity.
IMF Bailout, India to back Sri Lanka’s Debt Restructuring Plan.
India will support Sri Lanka’s debt restructuring plan as the island nation looks to trim its huge public expenditure to win approval for a crucial bailout from the International Monetary Fund. India formally notified that it would support Sri Lanka’s debt restructuring plan. Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic crisis since independence from Britain in 1948, and policymakers have been grappling with multiple challenges over the past year including a shortage of dollars, runaway inflation and a steep recession. Sri Lanka owes India around $1 billion that will come under the debt restructuring plan. New Delhi also separately provided Sri Lanka with about $4 billion in rapid assistance between January and July last year, including credit lines, a currency swap arrangement and deferred import payments.
China’s Population Shrinks for the First Time Since 1961.
China’s population fell last year for the first time in six decades, a historic turn that is expected to mark the start of a long period of decline in its citizen numbers with profound implications for its economy. The drop, the worst since the Great Famine of 1961, also lends weight to predictions that India will become the world’s most populous nation in this year. The population dropped by roughly 850,000 to 1.41175 billion at the end of 2022. Long-term, UN experts see China’s population shrinking by 109 million by 2050, more than triple the decline of their previous forecast in 2019.
Last year’s birth rate was 6.77 births per 1000 people, down from a rate of 7.52 births in 2021 and marking the lowest birth rate on record. The figures also logged the highest death rate since 1974, registering 7.37 deaths per 1000 people compared with a rate of 7.18 deaths in 2021.
World Wetlands Day celebrated at all 75 Ramsar sites in India
The State Governments and Union Territory administrations celebrated World Wetlands Day (WWD) at all 75 Ramsar sites this year with over 200 events. The National Flag was hoisted at the Ramsar Sites. The wetland pledge was administered during these events. Over 50 activities were held with student engagement in which drawing competition, quiz competition, exposure activities, and bird watching were organized.
This is in line with emphasis on participatory management of wetlands by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modiwho in Mann ki Baat on January 29, 2023 highlighted the invaluable role played by local communities in conservation of Ramsar Sites.The celebrations held across the country are as follows:
In Jammu and Kashmir, citizens took a pledge to conserve wetlands at Wular Lake.
Jal Jeevan Mission Provides Tap Water to 11 Crore Rural Households
Over 11 Crore rural households in the country have access to tap water connections as India celebrates its 74th Republic Day. 123 districts and more than 1.53 lakh villages of India have reported ‘Har Ghar Jal’ which means every household has access to clean drinking water through the tap. Jal Jeevan Mission was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 15th August 2019 to provide every rural household with a tap water connection by 2024.
At the time of the launch of the Mission in 2019, out of 19.35 Crore rural households, only 3.23 Crore (16.72%) had access to tap water.
As of date, within a short span of about three years of the life-changing mission, over 11 Crore (56.84%) of rural households have tap water supply in their homes.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised the achievement of 11 Crore Tap water connections under the Jal Jeevan Mission.
Remote Electronic Voting Machine.
As many as eight national and 40 regional political parties held a discussion with the Election Commission on Remote Electronic Voting Machine(RVM). The development came after the commission extended the date of submission of written views by political parties (on various issues with regard to RVM) to February 28, 2023. Though the parties appreciated ECI’s initiative of calling all parties for discussion, they had a plethora of queries on the same.
The new RVM prototype will enable a voter, who is listed in constituencies, to exercise voting rights from a single machine.
The multi-constituency remote EVM, developed by a public sector undertaking, can handle up to 72 constituencies from a single remote polling booth.
Migrant voters would not need to travel to their home districts to exercise their franchise if the remote electronic voting machine is implemented properly.
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