Monday, October 29, 2007

An excerpt from the official website of the Darjeeling District Administration

"Possible causes of Landslide hazards in the Darjeeling Hill Areas

1.The trends of evolution or rising of young mountains is the basic reasons for frequent landslide hazards in the Himalayan region. This includes unstable geological structure, tectonic disturbances, parallel subsidence of Himalayan fore deep of slopes.

2. Soil erosion and its conservation play an important role in the hill areas. Because of the presence of very thin soil cover plays an important role in the socio economic development of the hills and its people. All India Soil and Land use Survey under the Ministry of Agriculture, Govt. of India had carried out studies in some specified watershed areas. Otherwise, no systematic soil mapping has been carried out in the region. As such, there is no database, of how much soil cover has been destroyed.

3. The soils of Darjeeling hill areas have developed mainly Darjeeling gneiss, schists and Phyllites. Due to heavy deforestation and excessive cultivation of root crops like ginger, potatoes, onions, cardamoms etc. the extent of soil erosion has increased considerably in the recent times. It is a fact that the entire Darjeeling hill areas do not get any soil deposition. Deposition of soil is only found in the river valleys. Thus, the prevention of soil erosion and conservation of soil is very necessary in the hills.

4. By examining the land use pattern and changing characteristics since the last 150 years, it may be commented that the forest cover is in a precarious condition due to the rapid increase in cultivated land (with the exception of tea gardens), expansion of settlements, construction of roads. The rapid depletion of forest cover is noticeable in the tea plantation area. In most of the tea gardens in the hills, any type of shade tree or trees along the fringe line of the garden for the protection of the soil is more or less insignificant.

5. Rapid expansion of settlements and towns especially along the roads is one of the important causes of frequent landslide hazards in the hills. Multi storied buildings without proper planning along the roads and on the steeper slope increase the load on the already deteriorated slopes.

6. In the rural and inaccessible high hills. Demand for fuel is another important factor, which may be treated as an important cause for slope failure. Unscientific mining of low energetic coal seams and illegal felling of trees to meet the demand of firewood is practically unavoidable in the hills.

7. During the last 2 decades there has been an unprecedented growth of population in the hill areas, especially in the towns. The explosion has been followed by the rapid increase in vehicular movements. The continuous horizontal vibration along the roads gradually destabilizes the already unstable slopes and geological formations.

8. Lastly the demand of water for domestic and commercial purposes has also increased. The forest clearance, dissection of the upper portions of the slopes are reflected in the decrease in ground water level and consequent drying up of the streams during most part of the year.

9. Examining the above mentioned analysis, the future of the Darjeeling hill areas does not look very bright. Systematic and scientific utilization/management of the natural resources is required."

(The excerpt is taken from

I, for one, was surprised to see this rather frank analysis in the district administration's website ,which in this age of the RTI , is just as well. The point which keeps buzzing inside my head however is this: whereas it is a revelation of sorts for the Govt to point out that the future of the Darjeeling hill areas is "not very bright", just what are THEY, the DGHC , and perhaps most importantly WE the people, doing about it?

Perhaps this only makes something like "savethehills" more pertinent and necessary.

praful rao

1 comment:

Rajesh said...

An eye opener, I always looked at the hills as a place to spend a holiday, Never cared about them as yet, I feel what seven hills is doing is very very necessry and need of the hour.

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