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29th May 2024 (10 Topics)

Landslides in Northeast India


Heavy rains caused by Cyclone Remal have led to landslides in several northeastern states. This highlights the urgent need for India to build resilience against multi-hazard disasters, where one event can trigger another, causing multiple disasters simultaneously. In recent years, India has experienced heavy rainfall that has breached glacial lakes, causing flash floods and subsequent landslides and flooding.

Landslide Vulnerability in India

  • According to the Geological Survey of India (GSI), about 0.42 million square kilometers of India’s land, or 13% of its area, is prone to landslides.
  • This vulnerability spans 15 states and four Union Territories, covering almost all hilly regions.
  • The Northeastern region, with its predominantly hilly terrain, is especially at risk, comprising 0.18 million square kilometers, or 42% of the total vulnerable area.
  • This region is also susceptible to earthquakes, a major trigger for landslides.

Causes of Landslides

  • Rainfall and earthquake: Most landslides in hilly areas are caused by heavy rainfall, though earthquakes can also trigger them.
  • Carrying capacity: The risk has been worsened by inadequate consideration of the terrain's capacity to bear loads.
  • Ineffective regulation: Many hilly regions lack proper building regulations, and when regulations do exist, they are often not effectively enforced.
  • Development activities: New construction, infrastructure development, and even agricultural practices can increase landslide risk.

Government Intervention

  • Organizations: The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), in collaboration with the GSI and other agencies, has been working to mitigate and manage landslide risks.
  • National Landslide Risk Management Strategy: In 2019, a National Landslide Risk Management Strategy was finalized. This strategy includes vulnerability mapping, identifying the most vulnerable locations, developing an early warning system, and preparing mountain zone regulations. However, much of this work is still pending implementation.

Q. Define the concept of carrying capacity of an ecosystem as relevant to an environment. Explain how understanding this concept is vital while planning for the sustainable development of a region. (2019)

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