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It’s cloudburst-triggered landslips: GSI scientist

Krishnadas Rajagopal
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Risk assessment:Geological Survey of India scientist K.S. Sajin Kumar at Pulloorampara in Kozhikode on Friday.
Risk assessment:Geological Survey of India scientist K.S. Sajin Kumar at Pulloorampara in Kozhikode on Friday.

Geological Survey of India (GSI) scientist K.S. Sajin Kumar has said that the natural disaster that claimed eight lives in the Pulloorampara-Anakkampoyil area early this week was multiple landslips coming under the classification ‘debris flow.’ He has warned of an immediate risk of more landslips in the same area.

Dr. Kumar was speaking to The Hindu after his day-long inspection of the landslip-hit region on Friday. He is commissioned by the government to conduct a field survey and study the causes for the landslips and floods which ravaged many parts of Kozhikode and Kannur districts.

‘‘My findings today have been misinterpreted as ‘cloudbursts’ by the media. This is wrong. What happened in the Pulloorampara-Anakkampoyil range was definitely landslides. What I said was that cloudbursts may have triggered the landslides," he said.

A cloudburst is a heavy downpour, thunder, and hail concentrated on a pocket of land leading to landslips. Landslips are classified into four categories: debris flow, rock fall, slide, and multiple flows. 

Red alert area

The State of Environment Kerala Report, comprehensive study compiled by the government on landslips, shows that 17 of the 26 landslips that occurred between 1984 and 2005, including the Mundakai landslip in Wayanad where 14 persons were killed, in Kerala belonged to the debris flow category.

Dr. Kumar said he covered four places where eight landslips had occurred in Pullorampara during his inspection on Friday. 

‘‘My observations show that there is still a very high and immediate risk of landslips occurring again in the same area in case of heavy rainfall. This is still very much a red alert area,’’ he cautioned.

The scientist, who is on his way to Kannur, said the Pulloorampara region has been classified as a ‘landslide-prone area’ in numerous reports submitted to the government by experts, including several by the Centre for Earth Science Studies, in the 1980s and 1990s.

Basis of findings

‘‘The basis of my findings today at Pulloorampara, including the finding that a cloudburst triggered the landslides and floods, are both inputs from the local population and a study of the geo-morphic set-up of the region,’’ Dr. Kumar said.

He said the other contributory factors for the landslips were the ‘slope factor’ and the ‘overburdening of the soil.’ Experts put the sloping angle of the Pulloorampara-Anakkampoyil hills at 22 degrees.

Detailing his Friday’s findings, Dr. Kumar said he discovered tertiary elements such as soil and rocks belonging to the Precambrian (Ice Age), dating back from 1500 to 650 million years and some dating back to 23.5 million years.

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