Tribune News Service
Srinagar, April 2
Amid lurking danger of further landslides by heavy rain across the Valley, earth science experts and geologists blame deforestation and illegal encroachment of forest land and streams for soil erosion and slides.
The threat of landslides has forced the authorities to shift hundreds of families from vulnerable areas of the Valley. So far, 16 persons have lost their lives in a landslide in Budgam district and many houses have developed cracks due to sliding of land, particularly in the karewa region of Kashmir.
As far as karewas are concerned, they are glacio-fluvial lacustrine deposits made up of sand, silt and clay in varying ratios. Apprehending landslides and erosion of land, the police in Baramulla and Sopore today evacuated 90 families comprising 554 members from landslide-prone areas and shifted them to safer places.
The authorities yesterday shifted 269 families to safer locations from landslide-prone areas in Dangerpora, Khour, Pattan and Krachapatri in Baramulla district and Shopian, Zamalgam in Anantnag and Brinjan, Chadoora, in Budgam district and other parts of Valley.
“The main reasons for the ongoing landslides in Kashmir are deforestation and encroachments of streams and water bodies,” said Associate Professor Farooq Ahmad Lone, who heads the Centre for Climate Change and Mountain Agriculture at the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agriculture Sciences and Technology, Kashmir.
Farooq, who along with a group of scientists last year authored a study report on impact of deforestation in the Tosa Maidan meadows in Budgam, said the central Kashmir district, where the biggest tragedy unfolded in Laden village following a landslide on Monday, was the most affected area due to deforestation and loot of the green gold.
“Budgam mostly has slopes and has witnessed large-scale deforestation. So, when there is incessant rain, the vulnerable lands like karewas and banks of streams are always prone to soil erosion and landslides,” he said, while advocating a large-scale afforestation programme and a major anti-encroachment drive in the vulnerable areas of Kashmir.
Landslides are potentially dangerous geological hazards which occur throughout the globe in the form of mudslides, rockslides, debris flow, mud flow, rolling stones, said Khursheed Parray, who currently teaches geology at SP College in Srinagar.
Khursheed said the current landslides in many parts of the Valley were a combination of multiple factors such as saturation of water, deforestation, illegal quarries and construction of structure at unstable slopes, construction without counselling regarding geomaterials and locations and environment degradation through myriad anthropogenic activities.
“I would call it (concern over landslides) crying over spilt milk. Moreover, recent past has lead to construction of roads on loose geological materials such as karewas merely on keeping the vote-bank intact,” he said. “The (karewas) are quite unstable as far as construction is concerned. If it gets saturated, it can cause heavy and massive subsidence,” he said.
Experts suggest that afforestation and soil conservation measures in the catchment areas of the Jhelum, its tributaries and other major streams can address the problem.
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