Little done to mitigate risks

  • landslide threats
- Post Report, Kathmandu

Aug 12, 2015-

Failure of authorities to access satellite imageries and maps of earthquake-affected districts has led to poor preparedness in mitigating risks related to landslides during the monsoon.

The Department of Water Induced Disaster Prevention (DWIDP), a government body responsible to manage and prevent risks of various water-induced disasters in the country, was least prepared to protect vulnerable settlements in the earthquake-affected areas as it could not come up with landslide inventory or vulnerability maps, crucial to identify settlements at risks of potential landslides.

“Despite concerns of increasing risks of landslides triggered by earthquake in many affected districts, very little was done to minimise threats on lives and properties,” said Shanmukesh Chandra Amatya, a senior divisional hydrologist who looks after landslides at DWIDP.

This was mainly because the authorities could not work on satellite observation and analyse the data, which is instrumental to prepare landslide inventory and point out the possible risk zone and type of risks along with preparing immediate and long-term mitigating measures to protect lives and properties to some extent during this monsoon. 

Besides, when resettling 6,945 households from 14-earthquake affected districts as an emergency measure no effort was put in place to reduce the landslides risks.

Nepal does not have its own institution to work on satellite images and maps so had requested international agencies such as Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and European-based satellite institutions, but failed to acquire information due to untimely and inadequate allocation of funds.

To work on disaster management, particularly of landslides after the earthquake, we need to assess the situation of each vulnerable district before and after the quake 

disaster, he said, adding, “We need at least three images each of before and after scenarios of the disaster from each district and interpret the situation,” according to Amatya. 

A single satellite image costs around Rs 100,000 and the DWIDP had forwarded a proposal of fund allocation of an estimated Rs 8.4 million for acquiring imageries of 14 most-affected districts soon after the earthquake hit the country. “However, the budget proposal has not been approved and there is very little to work on mitigation measures this monsoon. We are hopeful to be able to work after monsoon when the budget gets approved,” said Amatya.

A latest government report released last week found that monsoon-induced natural 

disasters, particularly landslides, claimed 90 human lives, with 38 others missing and 48 injured so far this year.

Published: 12-08-2015 10:56

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