Kerala

Wayanad District Disaster Management Authority tightens the screws

Restrictions on construction, quarrying, mining in landslip-prone areas

Wayanad district, a biodiversity hotspot on the Nilgiri biosphere reserve, is paying the price for reckless development.

Hills in many parts of the district have been grotesquely wounded by quarrying. Deforestation and reckless commercial interventions have destabilised the environment. When rain of extreme intensity pours down, the precarious hills inevitably succumb, causing casualties and destruction.

Going by the natural disasters at ecologically fragile areas, including Kurichairamala and Pancharakkolli, the recent landslip at Puthumala holds many portends.

The topography of the hill district is largely dominated by hillocks, valleys, and forests. The district witnessed two major floods and landslips this year and in 2018. Spread over 2,132 sq km, 15% of the district was identified as landslide prone by the National Centre for Earth Science Studies in 2011.

The intense rainfall resulted in two landslips at Puthumala and Muttil in which 14 people lost their lives. Five people are still reported missing and the loss is yet to be quantified. Last year, 11 people died in rain-related calamities and the extent of damage has been put at ₹2,251.12 crore.

While 10 major landslips and hundreds of mudslides occurred in the district this year, the figure was 278 last year.

The District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) recently enforced certain restrictions on land use, especially in landslip-prone areas in the wake of the disasters. An order issued by the DDMA places restrictions on construction, quarrying, mining, and land development activities in such areas.

Climate change

“Rain triggered landslips are likely to increase in the coming years owing to climate change. Hence, it is absolutely essential to bring certain restrictions on land use, especially in landslip-prone areas in the district,” Wayanad Collector A.R. Ajayakumar told The Hindu.

The DDMA had prepared a disaster management plan for the district and handed it over to local bodies. Moreover, the 10 local bodies in landslip-prone areas are preparing own disaster management plans.

“Such a measure helped the local bodies to lessen the intensity of disaster, especially in Puthumala and Muttil areas, by evacuating people from the area earlier,” Mr.Ajayakumar said

He said the district panchayats had launched a project to train 450 members of voluntary organisations to meet any disaster.

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Printable version | Mar 29, 2020 3:12:16 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/wayanad-ddma-tightens-the-screws/article29310679.ece

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