Govt ‘ill-prepaid’ to tackle landslide disaster in quake-affected districtsDespite repeated warnings of possible landslides in the earthquake-affected districts, the government remains “ill-prepared” to deal with the possibility of disaster that is likely to be triggered with the start of monsoon.
Despite repeated warnings of possible landslides in the earthquake-affected districts, the government remains “ill-prepared” to deal with the possibility of disaster that is likely to be triggered with the start of monsoon.
Neither the Home Ministry nor the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) has precautionary plans and the both are taking the old approach of waiting till the disaster occurs to swing into action.
A report published by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) has stated 150,000 houses in the five quake-affected districts are at high risks of being swept away by landslide and debris flow.
The report, conducted in Gorkha, the epicentre of the April 25 earthquake, Rasuwa, Dolakha, Dhading and Sindhupalchok, has revealed 51 to 72 percent of Village Development Committees in these districts are at alarming risk of landslides. It has also identified 5,951 possible landslide spots in the 15 quake-affected districts.
The NRA has said it has not been able carry out a detailed research on the risk of human settlements on quake affected districts. “We have been more focused on carrying out damage assessment of houses and have not been able to work on landslide risks,” said Ram Thapaliya, spokesperson for the NRA.
The major earthquake on April 25 and May 12 and numerous aftershocks thereafter have caused slope fracturing and weakening of rock mass in 14 most-affected districts. The cracks, fissures and slides on the land surface and hill slopes are highly vulnerable to landslides, especially during monsoon, the report warns. Ninety-nine percent of the landslides occur during monsoon.
The quake-affected districts had escaped another natural disaster due to mild rainfall during last year’s monsoon. However, meteorologists have predicted normal rainfall in most parts of the country which means looming threats of landslide in quake-affected districts.
Instead of settling people from high risk areas before landslides occur and block roads, the government is waiting for the monsoon to end to start shifting people to integrated settlement. But the Home Ministry maintains that it has already informed its disaster management units to remain on high alert for possibility of disaster.
“We are also planning to shift settlements of high risk to integrated housing. Unfortunately we could not start the work before monsoon. We will wait for the monsoon to end to start the programme,” said Yadav Prasad Koirala, joint secretary at the Home Ministry.
The research has pointed out that landslides have swept away human settlements, destroyed forests, roads and hydro electricity projects.
The researchers also documented evidence of monsoon-related debris flows resulting from earthquake landslides. Last year Kaligandaki River had been temporarily blocked by a massive landslide which occurred along the Beni-Mustang highway. Landslides which occurred after last year’s major earthquakes have damaged a total of 456km of roads across the country—105km in Sindhupalchok, Dolakha (101), Rasuwa (71 km) Gorkha (60km), Nuwakot (55 km), Lalitpur (23 km).