Tupul landslide: An impact of climate change

K Rajeshwar Sharma
Landslides are mass movements of soil or rocks along the slopes of mountains. As rains are one of the causes of landslides, they occur more often than not during the rainy season whether it is in the Himalayas or elsewhere. These mountain ranges are prone to landslides. Just as it happens almost every year along the Imphal-Dimapur Highway, train services and vehicular traffics are often disrupted for hours or even days in Darjeeling as well as in the Nilgiris because of landslides during the months of July, August and September.
The Nilgiri Blue Mountain Train that runs between Mettupalayam near Coimbatore, to Udhagamandalam or Ooty, is the living witness to these landslides. So are the truckers that transport goods to Manipur along the two National Highways.
Unlike the past few years, the South West monsoon arrived early this year with all its fury during the month of June that triggered floods and landslides. The weatherman recorded 435mm of rainfall in Manipur in June alone. Subsequently, in the wee hours of 30th June, a massive landslide occurred at Marangching, where the Tupul Railway station is being constructed, in Noney district of the State claiming forty-eight lives, and destroying railway infrastructure and many houses.
The city of Imphal, though proud of its Kangla Fort, Ima Keithel and War Cemetery, is ashamed of its clogged narrow drains that cause flash floods with an overnight rainfall that lasts for days with intermittent breaks. In the middle of June, some sections of Sega Road and large areas around the road were flooded with overnight rainfall. In every neighborhood of Imphal, it has been the same old story every year when the monsoon arrives. Governments of all political hues come and go but the plight of the people remain unchanged year after year. Shrugging it off, an official said with indifference, ‘Blame it on climate change.’ Perhaps the culprit could be climate change which, according to scientists, can be seen in the erratic changes in rainfall pattern, violent cyclonic storms and heat waves taking place in every continent.
Climate change is an offshoot of global warming. It is a shift in the average weather conditions due to rising temperatures all over the world. Erratic rainfalls, heat waves and cyclonic storms are some of the ugly weather conditions of climate change. Since the middle of the 19th century when the Industrial Revolution began, world temperature has been rising steadily. Our planet Earth is 1.2 degree Celsius warmer than it was in 1850. It is due to burning fossil fuel such as coal, petrol, diesel etc, and deforestation.
In order to get energy, humans have been using coal to generate electric power. Petrol and diesel have been used to drive several types of vehicles. Airplanes are flown with large quantity of petroleum product. While burning these fossil fuels to produce electricity and run the engines, carbon dioxide (CO2), one of the greenhouse gases, is emitted into the atmosphere, and it envelops the Earth trapping the Sun’s heat. Subsequently, the Earth’s temperature increases. This phenomenon is known as Greenhouse Effects.
Carbon footprint can be traced by examining tree rings and polar ice as they record changes in atmospheric chemistry.
(To be contd)