Sunday, October 4, 2009

Why landslides are an unknown disaster form..

  • Only 15% of the Indian landmass is affected by landslides and many of the affected areas are in remote inaccessible places.
  • Landslides are typically a recurrent form of "small disaster", which gets ignored at the national level in comparison to extreme and extraordinary "high impact" events such as earthquakes.
    Yet the attrition, cumulative loss and impact on development caused by landslides over years often exceeds that caused by the infrequently occurring mega disasters.
  • Statistics for recorded wrongly. Most often losses due to landslides are attributed to events which trigger them eg losses and deaths between 25-27May2009 in Darjeeling are ascribed to Cyclone AILA and not to landslides.
    This leads to an erroneous and deceptively low loss/damage rates being reported for landslides.
  • Govt and media parameters (in India) of judging the severity of landslides are confused and needs to be made exact and precise in order that a landslide can be evaluated correctly.
    As on date govt and media still report the severity of a landslide in terms of the number of houses "fully or partially" damaged or the number of lives lost.
    On 19Aug2009 in Kalimpong landslides, triggered by high intensity rains caused huge damages to roads and infrastructure such as bridges/culverts and caused much loss of farmland. Fortunately no one died.
    Media and govt reports still stuck to reporting the losses in terms of "numbers of houses partially and fully damaged".
    This confused method of assessment leads to an under reporting and incorrect estimation of the scale of the devastation by the hazard.

    Praful Rao

1 comment:

Puthumai said...

Dear Dr. Prafulla,
I sincerely agree with your views. Moreover, the "side" impacts are not counted in landslides. E.g. If 1000 sq.ft of land is "directly lost" in the landslide, normally it affects about another 1500 sq.ft of land that is adjacent to it, as the landscape and its shape has changed. this is never counted.

- Puthumai A. Nazarene