Himalayas are highly vulnerable to landslides which cause massive harm to lives and property in the challenging terrain. This monsoon the young fold brittle Himalayas are encountering unforgiving spells of rain cloud bursts wreaking havoc over the mountain life. Himachal Pradesh Govt. has estimated a loss of approximately ₹700 crores with over 70 lives lost in interspersed incidents of landslides. Traffic jams lasting days causing crushing losses to supply chains. Similar communications are rallying from J&K and Uttarakhand. Sustainable Infrastructure experts and ecologists are concerned and are questioning the existing practices of connectivity projects.
In this age of technology, they recommend use of early detection, warning and prevention techniques. Fundamental measures such as landslide zoning & mapping accompanied by non destructive sub soil testing to characterise sub soil strata is the need of the hour during the planning process. The world heritage Shimla- Kalka rail alignment comprises of 103 tunnels crossing geologically weak strata.
Despite being over a 100 years old, it rarely gets closed. This indicates how robust tunnel networks prove to be in the fragile topography. These are often ignored due to high input cost.
Inorder to solidify soil adhesion, ecologists recommend plantation of local shrubs, bamboo , oak and ficus species of banyan, gular, pilkhan trees along the disturbed slopes . As per Geological Survey of India, about 0.42 million km2 covering nearly 12.6% of land area of our country is prone to landslide hazards.
Mountainous regions of the North-Western Himalayas, the Sub-Himalayan terrain of the North-East, the Western and Eastern Ghats are prone to landslides covering 22 States and 2 Union Territories. Excavators and earthmovers have expedited road construction in the mountains, but the backlash of nature is full of rage and compelling enough to rethink and mend our ways.