Aftershocks, rain raise landslip fears

  • Kaligandaki Blockage
Aftershocks, rain raise landslip fears

May 26, 2015-

Immediate threats from the Kaligandaki river, which was blocked by massive landslides at Baisari in Myagdi district on Sunday, seems to have been averted as the river resumed its regular flow. However, the locals are living in constant fear that the frequent aftershocks and rain could trigger fresh landslides in already loosened slopes along the river any time and block river again.  

The Kaligandaki river flows in very deep and narrow gorge for about 40 km from Lete in Mustang district to Beni, the district headquarters of Myagdi. It is suspected that further land masses could cave in any time from dangerous rocky slopes already weakened by the Great Earthquake of April 25 and its powerful aftershocks.

“Other massive landslides could occur on the river bank in the area any time and block the river,” said Deputy Superintendent of Police Hira Giri, adding that police are assessing the landslides and lands developing cracks in the area.

The local authorities said that the vulnerable cliffs at Bandarjung, Guithe, Bhurung, Gharkhola, Ghar and Ramche could pose great threat in the rainy season.

The Kaligandaki river, which flows through the world’s deepest gorge called Andhagalchhi between Annapurna and Dhaulagiri mountain ranges, had been frequently blocked by landslides in the past. The river was blocked at Tatopani Bazaar after a massive landslide at the Goganpani cliff of Shikha VDC in September 1997.  

On Sunday morning, the landslide dammed the river forming a 2-km long lake at Baisari which is about 8 km north from Beni. The water started overflowing from the dam regularly but the lake has not cleared yet.

Engineer Rajesh Poudel at Road Division Office in Baglung said the artificial dam at the landslide site is about 35 metres high forming the lake that is 200 metres deep. “The effort to clear the water through the landslide using excavator has been foiled as the landslide is still continuing,” he added.  

Massive rocks started falling past Saturday midnight, damaging 27 houses in Bhagawati and Ramche VDCs. The displaced people have been resettled at Raupare in Piple VDC-5 along the Beni-Jomsom road stretch. Temporary shelters have been set up with the help of tents provided by various agencies.

Road officials moot alternative track

An alternative track is set to be opened to resume vehicular movement along the Beni-Jomsom road stretch that has been obstructed by landslides at Baisari. A team of technicians from Division Road Office, Baglung, that reached the site on Tuesday had conducted feasibility study on the site. According to the technicians, a 700-metre stretch of the road has been damaged by the landslide. “As it is a highway, seeking an alternative in rural road is difficult,” said engineer Rajesh Poudel. He said efforts were on to remove the debris from the landslide using dozers. According to him, deepening the outlet by 10 metres could decrease the water level in the lake considerably and allow repairs to be carried out on the damaged road.

Chief District Officer Tek Bahadur KC said that efforts were on either to repair the damaged road or open an alternative track. “There will be acute shortage of daily essentials in the northern part of Myagdi and Mustang districts unless the transportation is not resumed along the Beni-Jomsom road section,” he said.

Published: 27-05-2015 07:06

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