Mid-hilly region at high risk of landslides this monsoon

Kathmandu, June 29

Though incidents of landslides and floods are often reported from across the country with the onset of monsoon every year, the government has yet to identify landslide and flood prone areas.

According to Ranjan Kumar Dahal, an engineering geologist and associate professor at Central Department of Geology in Tribhuwan University, 14 quake-hit districts are at high risk of landslide after last year’s earthquake made the geological structure in the districts unstable.

A meeting held between geologists and Ministry of Forest and Wildlife Conservation one month after the quake last year had jointly decided to carry out landslide hazards mapping.

“Upstream areas of Bhotekshi, Melamchi of Sindhupalchowk, Rasuwa, and northern Nuwakot, among 14 other quake-hit districts are at high-risk of landslide as their geological structure has become unstable due to the Gorkha earthquake” Dahal told The Himalayan Times.

He added, “Similarly, Tansen of Palpa, Tamghas of Gulmi, Mangalsen of Achham, Bhojpur, Sankhuwasabha and Phidim along with all major settlement areas of the mid-hills are at high risk of landslide.”

He said the entire mid-hill region of the country had become vulnerable to landslides, especially after intense rainfall. He added that the government had turned a deaf ear although he persistently reminded the latter of the vulnerable areas, need for re-establishment of risky settlements and urgent landslide hazard mapping.

The Department of Soil Conservation and Watershed Management said there was no further development in this regard. “The department has started landslide inventory in Gorkha, Rasuwa, Dhading and Nuwakot districts, but landslide hazards mapping has yet to start,” said an engineer at the department Dipak Bharadwaj.

According to the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, it has installed early warning systems throughout the major rivers of the country.

DHM has installed the early warning system in Kankai, Koshi, Narayani, West Rapti, Bheri, Karnali and Mahakali, among other rivers, and is preparing to install the same at rainfall record stations.

The system alerts whenever the water level hits a dangerous high and the message is passed to centre as well as local level authorities through SMS.

“We plan to install the early warning system in landslide prone areas on the basis of the rainfall they receive.

The system will give warning if the rainfall is more than 60 mm in one hour, 80 mm in three hours, 100 mm in six hours, 120 mm in 12 hours and 140 mm in 24 hours,” said Director General at DHM, Risi Ram Sharma.