‘Landslides can be curbed, not avoided’

In the backdrop of the landslide in Manipur that left 48 people dead, a senior geologist of the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation said such incidents can be curbed but not avoided in the North East since it is an earthquake-prone area where soil and rocks get disturbed by constant geotectonic shift.
“We have loose soil here. The rocks are hard only in the deeper portions. So when it rains incessantly or heavily, chances are that the soil will erode,” the geologist, who has worked in the region, said requesting anonymity.
He said the incidents can be curbed through selective plantations and technology.
“To avoid such incidents where development projects are coming up, we must ensure maximum plantations. Only the plants with roots that can reach the sub-surface should be planted in consultations with experts,” he said, adding that in Uttarakhand, which has hard rocks, the retaining walls should have steel nets to keep the earth stable.
Senior State Government officials could not be reached for comment.
After the disaster, Chief Minister N Biren Singh had said his Government would ask the Railways to re-examine the project considering the “soft” soil in the hilly areas.
A railway official denied the charges of faulty process during hill cutting.
“When a hill is cut for a project, the angle and the slope need to be maintained. It was adhered to,” he said.
Jhum cultivation reason?
A railway official blamed jhum cultivation for the recent incident. “Rainwater had got accumulated at the site, rendering the soil soft. That place is not a natural basin,” he said. Locals, however, dismiss the claim, saying jhum cultivation is rare in the area which was an earthquake epicentre in 2016.
The New Indian Express