EDITORIAL: Landslide menace

Research should be carried out to locate areas prone to landslides. Such identification would greatly help to control damage

The country lacks authentic data on landslides although it is very prone to them. So far we know that a total of 3,220 landslides were recorded here between 1971 and 2013.

The analysis made by the National Society for Earthquake Technical Nepal shows that on an average 76 landslides occur every year. On an average about 111 people die due to landslide related causes annually.

The number of people losing their lives in these natural calamities during this period is reported to be about 4,691. Landslides usually occur during the monsoon but they take place even during the winter.

A total of 14 districts are at high risk to landslips after the devastating earthquakes that struck last year.

Their geological structures have become more unstable after the earthquakes and could cause more landslides. Meanwhile, the entire mid-hills are vulnerable to landslides particularly during the rainy season.

To make information available on landslides, the Department of Soil Conservation and Watershed Management is planning to set up a systematic National Landslide Management Centre within a few months. Talks are underway among the stakeholders to establish such a centre at the earliest.

This body would undertake research on landslides, maintain a landslide inventory, do landslide hazard mapping and also come up with prevention programmes. Although the landslides and flooding occur every year these areas are still to be identified.

A policy and local level programme should be in place. This would make it possible to save human lives and property which are common concerns. As such, landslide hazard mapping should be done throughout the country.

According to the Department of Soil Conservation and Watershed Management there are about 30 organizations involved in the management of landslides in Nepal, and this department receives three to five complaints of landslides from the affected victims daily.

The department has come up with the plan to appoint 61 District Soil Conservation Officers who would be working as Environment Inspectors. We should sound the alert and be equipped with the data collected about the possibility of areas where landslides are most likely to occur.

But this is not being done now. Meanwhile, measures that could be taken to reduce the incidence of landslides would be through carrying out massive afforestation and protecting the greenery. Wanton destruction of forest cover is also responsible for the increasing incidence of landslides.

It is indeed possible to forecast where landslides are likely to occur. Research should therefore be carried out to locate such risky areas. Such identification would greatly help to control damage.

People in risky areas could be settled in safer places in time. It would also make travel on rural roads safer where boulders could fall down on passing vehicles and also obstruct the smooth flow of traffic.

Thus, the formation of a National Landslide Management Centre could help immensely in this regard. If adequate precautionary measures were taken, things could be made much better.

No excuse

This year, too, Grade 10 examination is to be held by the Sanothimi-based Office of the Controller of the Examination (OCE) instead of the National Examination Board (NEB), which alone is authorized to conduct secondary level examinations, Class Ten at regional level and Class Twelve at national level.

But because of the delay in giving a full shape to the newly created NEB as well as in setting up its regional offices, the existing OCE has been given the authority to conduct this year’s Class Ten examination, though of course at regional level and also with the difference that the Grade Ten examination will no longer be called School Leaving Certificate (SLC) exams.

An amendment to the Education Act has made Class Twelve the last step for completing school level, whereas earlier it was Class Ten. There were several months available for the government to make all necessary arrangements to implement the amendment fully.

But delays and excuses in implementing a new policy, programme and law have been a characteristic of our governance. This state of affairs should end if the government is to deliver well and also to win the trust of the public.

What Class Ten examination will now be called still seems to be a difficult question to answer.