Haphazard excavation of limestone poses landslide risk in Palpa local unitAt least 45 households in Tinau Rural Municipality are at risk of landslides.
On July 8, three people were killed and five houses swept away in a landslide at Hiude Khola in Tinau Rural Municipality Ward No. 5, Palpa. Six other houses in the settlement are still at risk of being swept away by landslides.
According to the local people, haphazard extraction of limestone from the cliffs in the upper part of Hiude khola has led to frequent landslides over the past years.
“Dolomite Limestone Pvt Ltd. operates a limestone mine in the upper part of Hiude Khola, which is just above the incident site. The landslide brought down limestone and debris towards the downstream settlements,” said Dal Bahadur Darlami, chairman of Ward No. 5. “Excessive excavation of limestone coupled with heavy and continuous rainfall in the area might have led to the landslide in the first week of July.”
At least 45 households in Panimil and Jhumsa areas of Tinau Rural Municipality are at risk of landslides.
According to the local people, the cliffs above the settlements have developed several cracks due to haphazard limestone extraction. Around fifty-metre stretch of the road between Panimil and Jhumsa along the Siddhartha Highway has also caved in.
The road between Hiude Khola and Chhaubismile has also suffered damages from the landslide debris.
“The government is only focused on generating royalty through limestone excavation. They are not looking into the environmental repercussions of such activities,” said Prem Prasad Pandeya, ward chairman of Tinau-3.
Currently, three limestone mines are in operation above the highway area in Tinau Rural Municipality.
Landslides pose a risk to 33 houses in Shreedanda, near the limestone mine of Siddhartha Minerals Pvt Ltd in Tinau. The area sees active landslides every year, according to local people.
“Excavation of limestone has also led to the drying up of natural springs. Irrigating our fields has become difficult with water sources drying up every year,” said Deepak Bajagain, a resident of Jhumsa.
The movement of heavy vehicles along rural roads has added to the weakening of the landmass, leading to road cave-ins. According to the data of the District Traffic Office in Palpa, more than 800 trucks carrying limestone pass through the Siddhartha Highway on a daily basis.
“The cliffs in Jhumsa, Hiude Khola and Panimil areas have been chipping away for the last two years,” said Bajagain.
Limestone mines have been in operation in Tinau for the last 14 years. Rajesh Shrestha, spokesperson of Tinau Rural Municipality, says the local unit has been witnessing several landslides in the last few years because of the haphazard extraction of limestones.
“The local people have been voicing their concerns about the operation of limestone mines in the area, which has led to the frequent occurrence of natural disasters,” Shrestha said.