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1 million people pushed below poverty line by Nepal earthquake: Report

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Powerful earthquake hits Nepal

Kathmandu: A national crisis caused by the April 25 earthquake and its aftermath has pushed an estimated one million people below poverty line, a Nepal government report has revealed.

Presenting the findings of the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) report on Saturday, National Planning Commission Vice-chairman Govinda Raj Pokharel said it was estimated that the poverty-level would go up by more than 2.5-3.5 percent.

As per the Human Development Report (2014), the poverty prevalence in Nepal is 23.8 percent.

The 7.9 magnitude earthquake on April 25 rocked as many as 36 of the 75 Nepali districts and among them 14 are worst hit where 8,800 people were killed, thousands injured and an estimated one million residents displaced.

The devastating quake and aftershocks damaged assets and properties valued at $5.13 billion (Nepalese Rs.513 billion), and the loss in terms of foreign earnings in different sectors is to the tune of $1.88 billion, the report said.

The PDNA states that Nepal needs an estimated $6.66 billion, or nearly one-third of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

The report will be tabled before the donor community at an international conference on June 25 here to collect resources for the rebuilding and reconstruction efforts.

Over the last three decades, Nepal had been registering fast improvement on the Human Development Index.

“The earthquake has affected agriculture, education, water and sanitation, and health, the crucial elements of human development. These people will turn poor because of loss of houses; income-generating opportunities; productive assets such as seeds and livestock; and durable assets such as assorted household items ranging from basic kitchen utensils to jewellery,” the report said.

“This has exposed the pitfall of the poverty reduction drive launched by the government — ‘The high degree of vulnerability’,” says a World Bank report, which was extended to the National Planning Commission to supplement the Post Disaster Needs Assessment.

The districts ravaged by the earthquake are not the poorest in the country.

Around 26.5 per cent of the population residing in quake-affected rural areas are categorised as poor. This figure is equivalent to national poverty rate.

On the other hand, only 9.7 per cent of the population living in quake-affected urban areas live below the poverty line. Nepal’s poverty rate stood at 24.8 per cent in 2013.

It means that around a quarter of the population in that year was living on less than $1.25 a day. But if the international poverty line of $1.25 a day was raised to $2 a day at that time, 57.3 percent of the population would have been categorised as poor.

“What this means is that a large proportion of Nepali households are just a sickness, a bad monsoon or natural disaster away from slipping back into poverty,” says the World Bank report.

Considering this, the earthquake will end up pushing 700,000 to 982,000 people (2.5 to 3.5 per cent of the population) into poverty in 2015-16, the report added.

According to the report, of the people who fall back into poverty, roughly 50 to 70 per cent are likely to hail from rural central hills and mountains where overall vulnerability was very high prior to the earthquake.

“The earthquake is likely to have obliterated all these livelihood channels, particularly for those with limited access to other forms of assets and credit markets,” it says.

Also, the need to rebuild their own houses is likely to keep many away from the labour market, leading to slowdown in non-farm activities. (IANS)

 

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Researchers Suggest Studying Aquifer Water Levels in the Himalayas to Predict an Earthquake

Whenever earthquakes occur, widespread cracks and deformations on the earth's surface are common, resulting in changes in groundwater levels, believe researchers

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Can water levels in the foothills of Himalayas forewarn about earthquakes? The blinking red light on a seismograph shows the epicentre of an earthquake. (representational image) Wikimedia

Bengaluru, October 16, 2017 : Continuous monitoring of water levels in the foothills of the Himalayas can warn about an impending earthquake in the region, which is due for a major temblor.

This recommendation to the Ministry of Earth Sciences has come from Ramesh Singh, professor of environmental sciences at California’s Chapman University, who is also president of the Natural Hazards Group of the American Geological Union.

Singh says the utility of monitoring the water levels of underground aquifers for predicting earthquakes in quake-prone regions has been confirmed from analysis of water level data in a bore hole collected during the earthquake that rocked Nepal’s Gorkha district on April 25, 2015.

The findings of the study carried out by Singh and three seismologists from China have recently been published in the journal Techtonophysics.

The Gorkha quake, one of the deadliest in Nepal, killed about 5,000 people mainly in Nepal, a few in bordering India, two in Bangladesh and one in China, and injured about 9,200 people.

Whenever earthquakes occur, widespread cracks and deformations on the earth’s surface are common, resulting in changes in groundwater levels, Singh told this correspondent in an email.

In China, many parameters are being monitored in water wells, including water level, water temperature, and water radon concentrations to detect any signal prior to an impending earthquake.

According to the scientists, due to seismic wave propagation, the volume of an aquifer expands and contracts, forming fractures that change the water flow in a bore well sunk into the aquifer.

In the case of the Gorkha quake, the scientists considered the water level in a bore well — called “Jingle” well — atop an aquifer in China’s Shanxi province, 2,769 kilometres from the temblor’s epicenter. The data was analysed soon after the Nepal earthquake.

A “spectrum analysis” of the co-seismic response of the bore hole water level showed large amplitude oscillations with a maximum peak-to-peak value of about 1.75 metres associated with ground vibrations generated by the earthquake, says their report.

In addition, the analysis revealed the arrival of a possible precursor wave at the “Jingle” well about 6.5 hours prior to the actual occurrence.

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“The study of co-seismic changes in groundwater has emerged as an important research area which can provide an improved understanding of earthquake processes and corresponding changes in surface and subsurface parameters,” Singh said.

Water level data in close proximity to the epicenter may be of great importance in getting early warning signals of an impending earthquake, he said. China and the United States routinely monitor aquifer water levels at 15-minute intervals.

In the light of the finding, Singh said that “India’s Ministry of Earth Sciences may consider deploying water level sensors in the Himalayan foothills areas, which may provide valuable information about an impending earthquake in the Himalayan region, which is due for a major earthquake.”

Such data, he added, “is also useful in understanding the dynamic nature of the Indian plate”.

However Arun Bapat, former head of Earthquake Engineering Research at the Central Water and Power Research Station in Pune, says he has some reservations about the study’s conclusion that water level changes observed in the bore hole were the warning signal for the Gorkha earthquake.

“Various effects associated with a large earthquake (Magnitude 7.5 or more) such as electrical, magnetic, geological, tectonic, hydraulic, radioactivity, etc., have been observed within about 600 to 800 km from the epicenter (but not beyond),” Bapat told IANS.

Bapat said the magnitude of the Gorkha quake was about 6.5 to 6.75 which is considered as moderate. “The effect of this quake on water level changes at a distance of 2,769 kilometres from its epicenter is almost not possible.” (IANS)

 

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Over 200 Killed As 7.1 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Mexico City

The earthquake took place on the anniversary of a devastating earthquake that killed thousands in Mexico City in 1985

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People evacuated from office buildings gather in Reforma Avenue after an earthquake in Mexico City, Sept. 19, 2017. VOA

Mexico, September 20, 2017 :  A powerful earthquake of 7.1 magnitude struck Mexico city, leaving more than 200 people dead and many trapped under the collapsed buildings. At about 2.15 p.m. (local time) on Tuesday, the earthquake shook central Mexico, its epicenter was 4.5 km east-northeast of San Juan Raboso and 55 km south-southwest of the city of Puebla, in Puebla state.

“We are facing a new national emergency,” said Peña Nieto, President of Mexico, in his first televised address following the earthquake.

The earthquake was felt far and wide. In Mexico City, there were power outages and more than 40 buildings collapsed crushing cars and trapping people inside.

Dozens of buildings collapsed or were severely damaged in densely populated parts of nearby states also.

Thousands of soldiers, rescuers and civilians — including college students — in Mexico City clawed through the rubble with picks, shovels and their bare hands. Windows buckled and shattered, falling several stories to the ground while thousands of people streamed into the streets running away from buildings and potential gas leaks.

People struggled to get home when power poles that toppled in the quake blocked the streets and the public transportation system temporarily shut down operations. Nearly 5 million customers were still without power early Wednesday.

The earthquake came less than two weeks after a massive 8.1-magnitude quake hit the country on September 7 and killed nearly 100.

The earthquake took place on the anniversary of a devastating earthquake that killed thousands in Mexico City in 1985. Just hours before the quake hit, many people took part in drills and commemorative events.

All public and private schools in Mexico City and some of the states affected by the earthquake will remain closed until further notice, Education Minister Aurelio Nuño tweeted.

Foreign leaders sent messages of support to Mexico. US President Donald Trump, who has courted controversy with his plans for a border wall with Mexico, tweeted: “God bless the people of Mexico City. We are with you and will be there for you.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also tweeted his support following the “devastating news”.

 

(IANS)

 

 

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Ancient Hindu Temple Changu Narayan in Nepal Possesses Historical Significance

Changu Narayan is a sacred Hindu temple in Nepal and was built in the memory of Lord Vishnu

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Changu Narayan Temple is an ancient Hindu temple in Nepal. Source: Wikimedia Commons
  • Changu Narayan is considered to be the oldest temple in Nepal
  • It is based on a high hilltop know was Changu or Dolagiri
  • It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and has an interesting tale behind it

New Delhi, July 14, 2017: The ancient Hindu temple Changu Narayan is situated on the top of a high hill well known as Changu or Dolagiri. The temple had a neighboring forest of champak tree and a small village called Changu and is situated in Bhaktapur District, Nepal.

The hill is about 7 miles or 12 km east of Kathmandu and a few miles north of Bhaktapur. This holy place “changu narayan Temple” is devoted to Lord Vishnu and held in admiration by the people of Hindu religion. Changu Narayan is believed to be the oldest temple in Nepal’s history. Bhaktapur king established kingdoms in Kashmir and kept it as Hindu kingdom.

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“changu narayan Temple” has a very intriguing story behind its existence. In old times, a Gwala, a cow herder, was given a cow by a Brahmin whose name was Sudarshan. The cow was believed to produce milk in large quantities. The cow herder used to take the cow for grazing to Change, which was a Champak trees forest that time. The cow was always found under a particular tree’s shade while grazing. In the evening, when the Gwala started milking the cow at his house, he received only a negligible quantity of milk. This continued for a number of days. He was disappointed and told the Brahmin about the cow not giving enough quantity of milk. After seeing this incident with his eyes, Sudarshan agreed and they decided that they should examine the cow while her grazing activity was being undertaken.

Changu Narayan Temple, east side, with the griffin (stone sculpture) left at the entrance. Source: Wikimedia

Both of them hid behind the trees and observed the cow. They noticed that a small black boy who had come out of the tree started feeding himself with the milk. This infuriated the two men as they thought of the boy as a demon and the tree as its home.

So the champak tree was cut down by the Brahmin. While he was doing this, he saw human blood come out of the champak tree. Both Brahmin and Gwala presumed they had done a crime and started crying.

Lord Vishnu suddenly emerged and told the Gwala and Brahmin, the mistake was not theirs and began narrating the story of him committing a crime by unknowingly murdering Sudarshan’s father while forest hunting. Afterward, he was cursed and he wandered on his mouth, as ‘Garuda’ descending on the Changu hill where he survived on stolen milk. The cutting down of the tree by Brahmin beheaded Vishnu and freed him from his sins.

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Following this incident, Brahmin and Gwala started worshiping that place and built a small temple of Lord Vishnu. That place has been considered sacred ever since. Even today, Sudarshan’s descendant is one of the priest of that temple and the Gwala’s descendants as conservators.

People belonging to Newar community reside in and around the area of Changu Narayan. Due to tourism development in this area, we can locate many hotels, souvenir shops, restaurants etc.

However, this holy temple “changu narayan” faces a lot of challenges and threats. The Manohara stream has witnessed rampant mining of sand and stones. The local administration has failed to cut down the mining activities. Due to these mining activities, the temple area has become prone to landslides. Because of overgrazing in the nearby forest, the chances of soil erosion and landslide have become very high.

– prepared by Harsimran Kaur of NewsGram. Twitter @Hkaur1025