Saturday, June 28, 2014

A problem with no solution : Report on Guwahati flood/landslides from the media :27Jun2014

Assam floods

Times of India :27Jun2014
GUWAHATI: At least nine people were killed on Friday when incessant rain triggered floods in the city. Four of the victims, including three of a family , died in landslides at two different places and four others were electrocuted. A youth drowned in the Bharalu river, which cuts through the city.
The Met office said the city recorded 57mm rainfall till 8.30am on Friday, the fifth-highest in a decade. Vast areas were inundated as clogged natural and artificial drains spilled over. "We have not been successful in building an effective drainage system in the city ," chief minister Tarun Gogoi said.

The Telegraph : 27Jun2014
Guwahati, June 27: Unprecedented flash floods and landslides have again brought into focus the rampant encroachment and earth-cutting on hills in and around the city. The government blames encroachment on hills for the woes but appears hesitant to evict illegal settlers, ostensibly because of pressure from groups like the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, which spearheads the agitation for land rights of hill dwellers.
An official said,Haphazard, unplanned urbanisation and phenomenal growth of population in the city since the state capital was shifted here from Shillong in the early seventies has put enormous pressure on the city’s hills with rampant encroachment and shrinkage of green cover. A strong political will is required to evict illegal settlers.”

Comment by Praful Rao
What is regrettable from the above reports is that so many more towns and cities all over the North East of India are also teetering on the brink of disaster, with no apparent solution in sight.
What is coming out loud and clear in all this, is that despite rainfall being moderate, death rates and devastation are disproportionately high due the phenomenal rate (of mostly unplanned) urbanization and an unprecedented rise in human interference in mountain environs in recent years.
(90% of all landslide fatalities in Darjeeling - Sikkim Himalaya in the last 3 yrs have taken place in an urban setting and been caused by relatively small landslides which have been triggered off at least partly by some form of human activity)
While this activity is totally controllable and the Uttarakhand devastation,last year should have taught us a lesson - the problem is a runaway horse which has spiralled way out of control.

Italics above are mine.

Praful Rao,
Dist Darjeeling

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