Disaster chain

  • Landslides in different parts of Nepal have worsened the quake problem

Jun 30, 2015-

The old adage that disaster does not come alone has been proved by the series of landslides that have occurred in different parts of the country in the immediate aftermath of the April 25 quake.

Towards the end of May, a massive dry landslide blocked the Kaligandaki River at Baisari in Myagdi district, forming an artificial lake, burying 25 houses and destroying property estimated at around Rs 48 million. Then two weeks back a devastating landslip in Myankha VDC in Taplejung district killed more than 50 people and obstructed the Mechi highway, a lifeline for that region.  And now major landslides have occurred in Gorkha, the epicentre of the powerful 7.9 magnitude jolt. Two days back, reports started surfacing about landslides taking place along the Manaslu mountain trail in Gumda and Kashigaun villages in Gorkha.

While floods and landslides are major occurrences in Nepal especially during the rainy season, the quake and its aftershocks have further weakened the slopes. This has increased the chances of such devastation happening in different parts of the country.

The best way to assure the immediate safety of the vulnerable people is to relocate them to a safer place.  The Department of Geology and Mines, along with the Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (Icimod) and the Survey Department, has identified 43 settlements in Gorkha, Rasuwa, Sindhupalchok and Dolakha that are at a high risk of such calamities.

Resettling communities is a difficult task and it also brings about a lot of problems, including those associated with livelihood, infrastructure and culture and climate. But this should  just be taken as an immediate option. Calamities that have occurred over the years have consistently shown our lack of knowledge about the hill terrain. As research scientist Tank Ojha recently wrote in these pages (‘Know thy land,’ Page 7, June 27) our government and scientific community lack proper mechanisms for assessing landslide-prone areas, including the collection of Geographic Information System (GIS)-based geological and topographical data. It is important that we train our experts to interpret such data and get the equipment that can help us know the lay of the land better and take precautionary measures.  

We also need to start adopting more environment-friendly policies to prevent such calamities. Recent reports about the government bulldozing roads through the fissure-filled hills in Manthali, Ramechhap, shows that our government officials are yet to tackle the problem in a right way. Given the severity of the problem, and considering the kinds of risks it poses, it is imperative that we get rid of such dangerous practices. It is high time we learned a lesson from the destruction.

Published: 30-06-2015 08:19

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