Wake-up call – on Landslides in Manipur

News: One of the severest natural disasters in Manipur happened recently. The incident led to the death of around 37 people.

What has happened?

A landslide accident happened in Manipur, leading to deaths and many people trapped below the debris.

The disaster compounded due to the accumulation of debris on the pathway of Ijei River. It could result in inundation of low-lying areas if the “dam”-like structure is breached.

The place, where this disaster occurred, is a railway construction site in a landslide-prone area. This should stir a review of the project for development planners and government officials in the State.

The Environment Ministry has acknowledged that the disasters were “anthropogenically” induced, caused by:

  1. Modification of slopes for construction,
  2. Fragile lithography,
  3. Widening of roads,
  4. Quarrying for construction materials,
  5. Complex geological structures and heavy rainfall

The area was identified as susceptible areas in the State through the National Landslide Susceptibility Mapping project. Still, it was not taken seriously before selecting the site.

What should be done?

The state government must evaluate whether sufficient soil and stability tests were done before choosing the site for railway construction. Researchers have confirmed that the area falls under very high, high, or moderate hazard zones.

An early warning system for landslides is still being developed and refined by the Geological Survey of India. Early implementation of the system could help reduce the scale of such disasters, once deployed across vulnerable States.

Although States in the Northeast are accelerating connectivity projects to uplift a relatively economically backward region, they should consider the ecological challenges seriously.

Source: This post is created based on the article “Wake-up call – on Landslides in Manipur”, published in The Hindu on 4th July, 2022.

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