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Char Dham routes to be mapped for susceptibility to geological hazards

DRDO will suggest measures to forecast, mitigate and control landslides and avalanches in the area

Char Dham routes to be mapped for susceptibility to geological hazards

Devotees at the Kedarnath temple after fresh snowfall in Kedarnath. PTI Photo



Tribune News Service

Vijay Mohan

Chandigarh, May 29

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has been asked to survey the Char Dham pilgrimage land routes in Uttarakhand to determine their susceptibility to geological hazards and recommend precautionary measures.

A meeting was held in the Ministry of Defence in New Delhi this week to discuss the modalities of the project, sources said. DRDO’s Defence Geoinformatics Research Establishment (DGRE) at Chandigarh will be the nodal laboratory to execute the task.

“Mapping geological features of the terrain and identifying landslide prone areas along the routes, rivers and streams, as well as assessing glacial areas in the upper regions that may be prone to avalanches will be undertaken,” a senior DRDO official said. “There are estimated to be over 60 vulnerable points along the roads that will be analyzed,” he added.

In the past few years, there have been several landslides along the roads as well as heavy flash floods in the hill state of Uttarakhand, causing heavy loss of lives as well as serious damage to infrastructure and property.

Geological and seismic activity as well as large scale unscientific construction in the highly sensitive Himalayan zone has been cited as the reason for landslides, avalanches and floods.

A recent study by the Sheffield University in the United Kingdom concluded that India was among the most affected countries by the deadly landslides caused due to human activities, with 20 percent of Asia’s most fatal landslides triggered by human activities being in India.

DGRE, which was formed in 2020 by merging the earlier Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment at Chandigarh and the Defence Terrain Research Laboratory in Delhi, will also suggest measures to forecast, mitigate and control landslides and avalanches in the area by various means such as constructing control structures, slope stabilization and strengthening road embankments.

Char Dham Yatra is among the country’s most popular pilgrimages that covers four holy sites – Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath – which are located at high altitude in the Himalayas. These shrines remain shut for around six months every year, opening in April or May and closing down in October or November, during which lakhs of devotees congregate in the area.

Recently, Uttarakhand’s tourism department developed a mobile application for pilgrims that will provide them weather updates and advanced notifications in case of any weather-related disruptions or impediments like landslides or roadblocks.

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