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  • 26 July, 2021

  • 15 Min Read

Landslides in Himachal Pradesh

Landslides in Himachal Pradesh

  • Landslides are simply defined as the mass movement of rock, debris or earth down a slope. They often take place in conjunction with earthquakes, floods and volcanoes.
  • A prolonged spell of rainfall can cause a heavy landslides that can block the flow of the river for quite some time.
  • The formation of river blocks can cause havoc to the settlements downstream on its bursting.
  • In the hilly terrain, landslides have been a major and widely spread natural disaster that often strike life and property and occupy a position of major concern.
  • Disasters due to landslides are in general, far less dramatic than due to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and cyclones but their impact on the natural environment and national economy are in no way less severe.
  • Unlike other disasters that are sudden, unpredictable and largely controlled by macro or regional factors, landslides are largely controlled by highly localised factors.

  • Hence, gathering information and monitoring the possibilities of landslides is not only difficult but also immensely cost-intensive.
  • It is always difficult to define in a precise statement and generalise the occurrence and behaviour of a landslide.
  • However, on the basis of past experiences, frequency and certain causal relationships with the controlling factors like geology, geomorphic agents, slope, land use, vegetation cover and human activities, India has been divided into a number of zones.

Landslide Zones

  1. Landslide Vulnerability Zones Very High Vulnerability Zone : Highly unstable, relatively young mountainous areas in the Himalayas and Andaman and Nicobar, high rainfall regions with steep slopes in the Western Ghats and Nilgiris, the north-eastern regions, along with areas that experience frequent ground-shaking due to earthquakes, etc. and areas of intense human activities, particularly those related to construction of roads, dams, etc. are included in this zone.
  2. High Vulnerability Zone: Areas that have almost similar conditions to those included in the very high vulnerability zone are also included in this category. The only difference between these two is the combination, intensity and frequency of the controlling factors. All the Himalayan states and the states from the northeastern regions except the plains of Assam are included in the high vulnerability zones.
  3. Moderate to Low Vulnerability Zone: Areas that receive less precipitation such as TransHimalayan areas of Ladakh and Spiti (Himachal Pradesh), undulated yet stable relief and low precipitation areas in the Aravali, rain shadow areas in the Western and Eastern Ghats and Deccan plateau also experience occasional landslides. Landslides due to mining and subsidence are most common in states like Jharkhand, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Goa and Kerala.
  4. Other Areas: The remaining parts of India, particularly states like Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal (except district Darjiling), Assam (except district Karbi Anglong) and Coastal regions of the southern States are safe as far as landslides are concerned.

Consequences of Landslides

  • Landslides have a relatively small and localised area of direct influence, but roadblocks, destruction of railway lines and channel blocking due to rock falls have far-reaching consequences.
  • Diversion of river courses due to landslides can also lead to floods and loss of life and property.
  • It also makes spatial interaction difficult, risky as well as a costly affair, which, in turn, adversely affects the developmental activities in these areas.

Mitigation Mechanism

Advancement in scientific techniques has empowered us to understand what factors cause landslides and how to manage them. Some broad mitigation techniques for landslides are as follows:

  • It is always advisable to adopt area-specific measures to deal with landslides.
  • Hazard mapping to locate areas prone to landslides. Hence, such areas can be avoided for building settlements.
  • Construction of retention wall to stop land from slipping.
  • Increase in the vegetation cover to arrest landslide.
  • The surface drainage control works to control the movement of landslide along with rain water and spring flows.
  • Restriction on the construction and other developmental activities such as roads and dams, limiting agriculture to valleys and areas with moderate slopes, and control on the development of large settlements in the high vulnerability zones, should be enforced.
  • This should be supplemented by some positive actions like promoting large-scale afforestation programmes and the construction of bunds to reduce the flow of water.
  • Terrace farming should be encouraged in the northeastern hill states where Jhumming (Slash and Burn/Shifting Cultivation) is still prevalent.


On the basis of the above discussion, it can be concluded that disasters can be natural or the results of human activities, and all hazards need not turn into disasters since it is difficult to eliminate disasters, particularly natural disasters. Then the next best option is mitigation and preparedness. There are three stages involved in disaster mitigation and management:

  1. Pre-disaster management involves generating data and information about the disasters, preparing vulnerability zoning maps and spreading awareness among the people about these. Apart from these, disaster planning, preparedness and preventive measures are other steps that need to be taken in the vulnerable areas.
  2. During disasters, rescue and relief operations such as evacuation, construction of shelters and relief camps, supplying of water, food, clothing and medical aids etc. should be done on an emergency basis.
  3. Post-disaster operations should involve rehabilitation and recovery of victims. It should also concentrate on capacity building in order to cope up with future disasters if any.

These measures have special significance to a country like India, which has about two-thirds of its geographical area and an equal proportion of its population, vulnerable to disasters. The introduction of the Disaster Management Bill, 2005 and the establishment of the National Institute of Disaster Management are some examples of the positive steps taken by the Government of India.

What is the news?

  • Nine tourists were killed after heavy boulders fell on their van following a landslip near Basteri in Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh on Sunday.
  • Multiple landslips triggered by recent rain occurred near Basteri on the Sangla-Chitkul road at 1.25 p.m., resulting in a bridge collapse and damage to some vehicles, the police said. A video of the incident, which has gone viral on social media, shows several boulders rolling downhill and smashing into the bridge, causing it to collapse.
  • According to the police, nine persons died and two were injured after heavy boulders fell on the van. The passengers were going to Sangla from Chitkul.
  • In a similar incident, a pedestrian was injured in another landslip in the Kinnaur district.
  • Mr. Modi said all arrangements were being made for the treatment of those injured and announced an ex gratia of 2 lakh each for the next of kin of the deceased and 50,000 to the injured from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund.

Click here to read everything about Disaster Management in India.

Source: TH

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