India: Indiscriminate blasting of mountains to build roads or other infrastructure has rendered the fragile areas of Uttarakhand more susceptible to landslides and floods, according to a report of the Geological Survey of India (GSI). The report was submitted by Director of GSI, regarding the treatment of vulnerable sites in the aftermath of the flash floods of 2013.
According to experts from the International Road Federation – an organisation based in Geneva, had also suggested structural measures such as storing of rainwater in large storage reservoir, detention basins and non-structural measures but these had hardly been implemented on the ground. “To avoid loss of human life and damage to infrastructure, floodplain mapping programs must be carried out with the help of remote sensing and ground level river data.”
This can predict in advance which areas will be flooded with a rise in river water level,” said IRF chairman K K Kapila. “Floodplain mapping will enable us to minimize the impact of floods by not allowing habitation and development in flood-prone areas. Optimum combination of structural measures such as large storage reservoirs, detention basins and embankments built in advance to channelise rain water can be adopted. Non-structural measures like flood forecasting, flood plain zoning and catchment area treatment can be undertaken,” he said.
He added that while planning the designing and rebuilding of the affected roads, it needs to be remembered that the outer and lesser Himalayas contain unstable strata so cutting of slopes in such ranges via blasting should be avoided. Kapila said that the best way to develop roads in hills was through the use of tunnels and connecting viaducts.