Take into account recent landslides in the Western Ghats. Also, suggest some ways to prevent future calamities.
A landslide is defined as the movement of a mass of rock, debris, or earth down a slope. Landslides are a type of “mass wasting,” which denotes any down-slope movement of soil and rock under the direct influence of gravity. Landslides, in the Western Ghats have a history. Following the 2018 floods, the Geological Survey of India revealed that between 1961 and 2013, Kerala suffered 67 major landslides and countless lesser ones. The analysis found that 993 landslides had occurred in Karnataka, followed by 606 in Tamil Nadu that witnessed 4% below normal rainfall. Of all the 23 hilly districts, Idukki in Kerala logged the highest number of landslides (1632), followed by Kodagu in Karnataka (771) and Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu (447).
- Historically, most of the settlements were concentrated in the coastal plain, the adjoining lowlands and parts of the midlands. However, this scenario has altered now, with significant land-use change across topographic boundaries.
- Population growth, agricultural expansion, economic growth, infrastructure development — particularly road construction — and intra-State migration have all led to settlement of the highlands. Kerala is experiencing high growth of residential buildings. The Census records that during the decade between 2001 and 2011, the population grew by 5% whereas the number of houses grew by 19.9%.
- While human interference is the primary cause, changing rainfall patterns leading in landmass loosening has only added to the problem.
- Quarrying on a large scale in the Ghats, changes in land use, a growth in plantations, and tourism complexes built on the slopes.
- Large-scale forest clearing occurred in these places to make way for plantations and other anthropogenic activities, which are currently causing landslides.
- Various anthropogenic activities alter the natural stability of the slope along a valley in the early stages. The slope instability could be caused by loss of soil resistivity and changes in land use.
- When water (rain) pools in the ground, a rush of water-soaked rock, soil, and debris results in the ultimate movement of the landmass, widening and sliding the fractures.
- Due to urbanization, continuous human activity, deforestation for various infrastructure projects, and increased regional precipitation in landslide-prone areas due to changing climatic patterns, the trend of increasing landslide incidences is projected to continue in the next decades.
- Monitoring and landslide prediction could be important preparatory techniques.
- The Geological Survey of India’s National Landslide Susceptibility Mapping (NLSM) initiative could help assess the districts’ vulnerability, allowing the concerned states to plan accordingly.
- Installing early warning systems based on monitoring ground characteristics such as slope displacement, soil and rock strain, and groundwater levels can assist people and authorities be aware of potential dangers.
- Landslide education, awareness, and capacity building among people and local government officials must be an integral part of the planning process.
- The district and state disaster management systems should be prepared to intervene quickly.
Key policy measures include operationalizing the state’s disaster management machinery and giving cash for readiness, but Kerala must also step up enforcement of regulations and zoning laws, as well as ensuring that slopes dug into steep terrain have proper drainage provisions. Natural disasters frequently result in a large number of avoidable casualties due to a lack of adherence to such principles. There is a price to be paid for pursuing development ambitions while disregarding environmental restrictions.
How to structure:
- Give an intro about landslides
- Account for the recent landslides in Western Ghats, use map and mention the reasons
- Suggest measures and also mention the implications of not following