Landslides in HP caused by deforestation and unplanned constructions experts allege

Experts say that behind the massive landslides in Himachal Pradesh is the rampant deforestation and unplanned constructions.

Landslides in HP caused by deforestation and unplanned constructions experts allege

Representative image: Unsplash/Remy Boulton

Massive landslides in Shimla along with torrential rain have caused death and destruction. The entire hilly state of Himachal Pradesh is reportedly facing the nature’s fury since Sunday, August 13th.

The Indian Institute of Advanced Study (IIAS) in Shimla wrote to the Union Ministry of Education and the local authorities for risk assessment of the complex in the wake of massive landslides in Shimla on Monday, August 14th.

The impact of the landslides in Shimla on Monday morning left around 20 persons buried inside a temple in Summer Hill.

The landslides in Shimla are apparently triggered off from the edge of the outer lawns of the institute, taking away with it a fenced pathway of the institute and several deodar trees right in front of the lawns.

The situation has worsened to such an extent that Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu has decided that his government will declare the torrential rainfall followed by massive damage as state calamity.

The state is also awaiting a response from the Union government to declare the disaster in Himachal Pradesh a national disaster.

According to experts, slopes in Himachal Pradesh have become highly vulnerable to landslides due to the cutting of rocks at the foothills and the lack of a proper drainage system, and high-intensity rainfall is worsening the conditions in the state.

“In addition, unscientific constructions in the ecologically fragile Himalayas, depleting forest cover and structures near streams blocking the flow of water are causing frequent landslides in Himachal Pradesh”, say experts according to reports.

“Extensive cutting of hill slopes for construction and widening of roads, blasting for tunnels, and hydro projects are the main reasons behind the increase in slides”, geological expert Prof Virender Singh Dhar was quoted by the press.

Dhar further said that vertical cutting of mountains for road construction has been witnessed in Himachal Pradesh with just 5-10 feet of retaining walls.

Himachal Pradesh receives about 730 mm of rain on average during the whole monsoon season from June to September, but according to the Met Department, the state has received 742 mm of rainfall this year to date.

As per the Landslide Atlas of India prepared by the National Remote Sensing Centre, ISRO, Hyderabad, all 12 districts of Himachal Pradesh are susceptible to landslides.

As per the state emergency operation centre, Himachal witnessed 113 landslides in 55 days since the onset of the monsoon. The Public Works Department (PWD) has suffered a loss of Rs 24.91bn and the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) about Rs 10bn, the news agency PTI reported.

As per the data compiled by the disaster management department, an alarming six-time increase had been witnessed in incidents of major landslides in 2022, which saw 117 major landslides as compared to 16 in 2020.

There are 17,120 landslide-prone sites in the state, out of which 675 are near critical infrastructure and habitations, according to the data.


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