Landslide threat in six districts of Western Ghats; Heavy rain that warned the government!

Kenchegowda Bangalore
Due to the attitude of the administrative system to think of a solution only when the problem is created and then remain aloof, the problem of landslides has created widespread anxiety in six districts of the Western Ghats.

Four years ago in August 2018, a landslide created a terrible situation in Kodagu and made hundreds of families victims. In total 28 taluks of Kodagu, Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, Hassan, Chikkamagaluru and Uttara Kannada districts, the problem of landslides has created fear for life among the people of the hilly areas. Thus the reports of the experts which were gathering dust have now gained importance.

Although landslides are a natural problem due to continuous heavy rains, landslides are more common in populated areas exposed to development than in forested areas. The report given by the experts to formulate a ‘Comprehensive Landslide Prevention and Management Plan’ has now come to life, recommending that appropriate precautionary measures should be taken. CM Basavaraja Bommayi has scrutinized the report prepared by the Geological Survey of India (GSI) team including senior officials of the Forest and Revenue Departments, scientists and environmental experts and suggested appropriate remedial measures.
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The government, which had forgotten the seriousness of the GSI report and the description of the situation of the Western Ghat task force, has finally woken up. In addition to paying attention to these reports, subsurface experts have been sent to areas prone to landslides. A study has been done on earth tremors and landslides accompanying rains. Top sources said that the CM has given strict instructions to the revenue department to collect this information and take short-term and long-term permanent remedial measures.

Are commercial activities submerged?
Landslides are a common and natural process during rainy season in Ghat region. However, after the area opened up for development in the last four to five years, road and other construction activities, hotel, home stay, resort and commercial activities increased the natural drainage system. According to experts, the reason for these natural calamities is that the hills are being cut down using machinery and the stream channels are being blocked. These points are important in the report of the expert team that came from Hyderabad during the 2018 Kodagu disaster and another expert report submitted to the former CM BS Yeddyurappa in April 2021. The GSI expert team report submitted to the government in September 2018 had prominently mentioned the threat from human activities.
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What is the solution suggested by experts?

  • Native mixed species forest should be cultivated
  • Destruction of green cover must stop
  • No commercial activity in valleys and slopes
  • Hill cutting should stop at 90 degrees vertical
  • Work that obstructs the flow of water should be avoided
  • If hill cutting is necessary it should be parallel

What are the precautionary measures?

  • Comprehensive mapping of subsurface and geological areas of hazardous areas should be done
  • Development should be based on climate change and extensive rainfall forecast
  • A landslide monitoring and prevention system should be devised

Revive thoughts
In the districts of the Western Ghats, land conversion should be stopped except for necessity. Curbing unauthorized homestays and resorts that have sprung up like umbrellas due to tourism attraction and creating district-wise environmental reconstruction authority. Top sources in the Revenue Department told ‘Vika’ that serious consultation has taken place regarding the implementation of these ideas, which have fallen into disrepair, after they got their start after widespread landslides during the 2018 monsoon season in Kodagu.