Tuesday, May 18, 2010

From the Bhutan Observer

Towards tackling landslides
14 May 2010
None of the countries in South Asia has a comprehensive da¬tabase and inventory of land¬slides and damages they have caused, according to a two-day workshop on landslide risk management in South Asia held in Thimphu on May 11 and 12.
Organised by Saarc Disaster Management Centre (SDMC) in collaboration with Minis¬try of Home and Cultural Af¬fairs, it was noted that there were assessments of hazards, vulnerabilities and risks but countries followed different classification system, termi¬nologies, methodologies and scales for landslide hazard zo¬nation mapping.
The need to develop a com¬mon acceptable guideline on landslides hazard zonation mapping, hazard terminolo¬gies and classification system with the help of expert group under the auspices of the Saarc Disaster Management Centre in New Delhi, India, was agreed upon.
Participants recommended to set up a South Asia land¬slide forum comprising land¬slide experts, practitioners, and scientific and technical research organisations work¬ing for landslide risk manage¬ment in the region.
The forum will network and integrate knowledge on land¬slide risk management within the framework of South Asia and meet at regional confer¬ence once in two to three years.
Participants deliberated on landslide problem in Bhutan. They said that, since Bhutan lies in a seismically active zone that is prone to earth¬quake of 4-5 Richter scale, it has to be prepared.
Participants also said that landslides occurs every mon¬soon because the measures taken are temporary, which reduce only the impact aris¬ing from them. The remedial measures taken are bio-engi¬ neering, check dams, crack sealing, construction of re¬taining walls and wire mesh fences that do not mitigate the problems forever.
Environment Assessment Act 2000 requires proper drainage system during con¬struction of roads since im¬proper drainage is one of the factors contributing to land¬slides.
The participants also ex¬pressed concerns over the fre¬quently occurring landslides in Kharbandi, Sorchen and Jumbja areas on the Thim¬phu-Phuentsholing highway. Though the Kharbandi and Sorchen landslides are about 20 and 30 years old respec¬tively, no solution has been found to mitigate the prob¬lem that sometimes cut off Thimphu from India.
No risk treatment has been found except for an alterna¬tive route as an avoidance strategy for Sorchen land¬slide. While some participants suggested surfacing as an an¬swer to almost 1-km Jumbja landslide, one proposed tun¬nelling as a bypass.
By Eshori Gurung

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