Threat from the hills

In 2003, massive landslides in the hill affected about 3,000 people in Uttarkashi and had completely damaged 81 buildings.

Twelve years after the Varunavat Parvat overlooking the town of Uttarkashi became a cause for worry for thousands of Uttarkashi residents, the threat of landslides in the Tambakhani region of the hill has again made the town vulnerable.

In 2003, massive landslides in the hill affected about 3,000 people in Uttarkashi and had completely damaged 81 buildings, a Geological Survey of India (GSI) report stated. In 2004, the Union government allocated Rs. 282 crore under the Varunavat package for treatment of the hill and the rehabilitation of the affected people.

On paper, the treatment was completed in 2008, but, Uttarkashi Disaster Management Officer Devendra Patwal told The Hindu that some work was left incomplete and some amount under the Varunavat package was left unutilised and returned.

Now, landslides have started in the Tambakhani region. “The water, especially rainwater, eroding the hill was diverted during treatment of Varunavat and all the water now falls on the Tambakhani region. As a result, this area has started eroding,” Mr. Patwal said. While the officials denied there was any threat to human life due to the fresh landslides, the Gangotri National Highway, which lies at the toe of the hill, has been closed, Administrative Officer of Tambakhani Bishan Singh Rana said.

“The vehicles will pass through the tunnel which was constructed under the Varunavat package [Rs. 282 crore],” he said.

Work not completed

Mr. Rana said the treatment of the hill could not be completed as the residents who were to temporarily vacate their houses, refused to do so. “The project authorities felt the treatment work was strong and no pressing need for more was felt,” he said.

Survey on

But, over 12 years after a month-long episode of landslides in the hill kept the people living at the toe of Varunavat on tenterhooks, the decision to leave the work incomplete may have been unwise.

Mr. Patwal said that a geologist was currently surveying the area and all possible steps to minimise loss to life and property were being taken by the district administration.

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Printable version | Jul 14, 2020 10:35:16 AM |

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