Overlooking disaster warnings proves costly

Reports by experts had specified parameters of concern and strategies for calamity mitigation

August 19, 2019 11:31 pm | Updated 11:31 pm IST - Kozhikode

Kozhikode, Wayanad and Malappuram district suffered the worst of nature’s fury this monsoon.

Kozhikode, Wayanad and Malappuram district suffered the worst of nature’s fury this monsoon.

Warnings and recommendations for action given by the Indian Institute of Architects (IIA) and the district town and country planning Offices in Kozhikode, Malappuram, and Wayanad against the backdrop of the deluge that hit the districts last year, are still in cold storage.

Kozhikode, Wayanad, and Malappuram suffered the worst of nature’s fury this time too, giving a tough time for rescue personnel. Incidentally, reports furnished by the IIA in association with government and non-governmental agencies had made a profile of each district, their hazard history, and parameters of concern along with strategies for disaster mitigation.

If 41,565 persons had been affected by floods and rain-triggered landslips last year, over 60,000 victims were relocated to rehabilitation centres over the past fortnight in Kozhikode district alone.

Although Malappuram was better off last year, it witnessed large number of deaths due to landslips this year. The disaster at Kavalappara in Nilambur taluk was particularly tragic.

Last year, 55,413 people had to be sheltered in government-sponsored relief camps. The actual number of people shifted was much higher as many of them had moved to their relatives’ homes in Malappuram district.

In the case of Wayanad, which has been identified as the most landslip-prone area in Malabar and the second in the State after Idukki, the report has called for urgent measures for the population in high-risk areas to be relocated. Last year, floods and landslips had resulted in the loss of 10 lives and affected 38,615 people. This time, nearly 17 people were buried under the debris of landslip at Puthumala near Meppadi in the district.

Obviously, the probability of occurrence of landslides is prone to those regions with high slopes in all the three districts. So, recommendations were made on creating awareness about hazard zones, measures to be adopted by local bodies and installation of siren system to warn inhabitants.

Significantly, the reports have suggested restrictions on construction of buildings in landslip-prone areas. Each zone should be identified, marking them as high vulnerable zones (red), moderate vulnerable zones (orange), and mild vulnerable zones ( yellow), the reports said.

The reports have warned that encroachment and conversion of natural drainage channels, inadequate and insufficient construction of roads, culverts and irrigation infrastructure, and reclamation of paddy fields have contributed to the severity of impact and damage.

In Wayanad, it was found that landslip-prone areas were in the forest and peripheral areas. But natural calamities have shifted towards interior areas where human interventions are high. Suggestions have been made to mark and analyse local private resorts. Also, a safety certification process was recommended for all resorts and tourists homes, especially those in the hazard prone areas of the district.

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