Tribune News Service
Uttarkashi, July 21
Rocks, boulders and mud debris falling from Varunavat Parvat over the Tambakhani Tunnel shocked Mamta (5), a resident of the Gyansu area in Uttarkashi, as she woke up around midnight a few days ago.
For her mother Kamla, the latest landslide incident has brought back the horrifying memories of a huge landslide on the night of September 24, 2003, that damaged around 202 private and 19 government buildings, forcing evacuation of around 3,000 persons from Uttarkashi town having a population of around 20,000.
Kamla had thought after the treatment of Varunavat Parvat she would be safe but the latest landslide has made her fearful.
However, the future of Uttarkashi town remains uncertain as the platform constructed as part of the treatment project at the top of the Tambakhani tunnel has developed gaping cracks and boulders are falling from the hill daily for the past few days.
Geological scientists say it is a weather phenomenon that moisture that holds cracked rocks evaporates, releasing rock pieces downhill and uprooting trees on the way. They say that debris is still accumulated at the hilltop and has not been treated completely. Hence, landslides will continue to happen.
Environmentalists say a number of hills surrounding the town are made of paleo glacial waste left behind by glaciers several thousands of years ago and these keep shifting their location at the slightest disturbance, triggering landslides. Earlier the town was limited up to the Bara Haat region, but after it became a district and its population mushroomed, even irrigated fields were converted into residential areas. The land below Varunavat Parvat also became a human settlement even though it was an unstable area.
The environmentalists say the agencies involved used concrete and cement on the treatment work and the adverse results are for everyone to see. Social activists say about Rs 282 crore was spent on the treatment project. The district administration never learnt lessons and continued promoting human settlements at Indira Colony, Masjid Mohalla and other areas just below Varunavat Parvat.
A lot of corruption has taken place in the name of treating Varunavat Parvat since 2004. Engineers, contractors and public representatives have connived to pocket money, leaving the treatment work on the hill incomplete as is evident from the fresh landslide. — Suresh Bhai, founder of nadi bachao andolan
Cracks had started appearing on Varunavat Parvat in 1993 but the treatment work that started in 2004 was not done in a proper manner as the agencies involved had no knowledge about it. An enquiry should be conducted against people who did not complete the treatment work, which is the reason behind the fresh landslide. —Lokendar Bisht, social activist from uttarkashi
I along with the technical team have conducted a survey and sent the detailed report to the government. The Geological Survey of India visited and inspected the site on Tuesday. It would submit its report to the government — Indudhar Baudai , uttarkashi district magistrate
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