Kerala

Crop-specific map warned of landslides

The deadly mudslides that hit the eastern high-ranges of Kottayam last week might came as a shocker to many but a recent document published by the Rubber Board had clearly forewarned the State on the susceptibility of these locations to landslides.

The document, which classified the total area under rubber in the State to different zones and was released in the official website of the Board in July this year, stated that at least 12 panchayats in the Meenachil and Kanjirappally taluks had been highly susceptible to landslides.

The initiative, which originally was intended to minimize the impact of the landslides on the natural rubber plantations, had been taken up in the aftermath of a massive landslide in Nilambur during the 2019 floods.

As per the classification , Poonjar Thekkekara panchayat in Meenachil Ttluk (659 ha) has the largest area in the highly susceptible zone, followed by Mundakayam panchayat in Kanjirappally taluk (438 ha). Koottickal panchayat in Kanjirappally taluk, which was devastated by a series of landslides last week, too was observed to have a substantial area in this category (381 ha).

Thalanad and Poonjar panchayats in Meenachil taluk too has a considerable area (376 and 209 ha respectively) in this zone.

An advisory of good agricultural practices, published along with the document, also stated that extreme caution should be taken to minimise disturbance of ecosystem while cultivating crops or for infrastructure development.

“Zero tillage practices need to be adopted in landslide vulnerable areas in synchrony with natural processes and systems in rubber cultivation. Indiscriminate use of heavy machinery for land preparation should be avoided,” it added.

Commenting on the initiative, Dr. Jessy M D, director in-charge, Rubber Research Institute of India, said plans were afoot to develop a mobile app on the classification of the rubber plantations to help farmers adopt suitable agricultural practice.

Official sources pointed out that the map, which covers more than 22% of Kerala's gross cropped area across the undulating and sloping terrains of the Western Ghats, is too crucial to be ignored in the wake of these back-to-back tragedies.

Heavy machinery

“The issues that it highlights are certainly hard to miss. For instance, it has advised against the indiscriminate use of heavy machinery in an area, which ironically has the highest number of granite quarries,” noted an official.


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Printable version | Dec 1, 2021 2:24:30 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/crop-specific-map-warned-of-landslides/article37154209.ece

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