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Pune Speak Up: Sliding away from our hands

Friday, 1 August 2014 - 10:12am IST | Place: Pune | Agency: dna

The Malin landslide tragedy wiped out an entire village. Many believe that the incident occurred due to illegal mining and poorly built roads. Dna asks experts if this is a wake up call for the government and us to not to play with the fragile biodiversity of the Western Ghats

Treat it as a god sent alert...
The Malin landslide should be treated as a definite wake up call and all Pune and Western Ghat citizens should take this tragedy as a god sent alert. Western Ghats are a major support system and act as shields to the climatological impact of wind and rainfall. Over the years the green cover on hills has been reducing at an alarming pace. Huge section of hills have been blasted to make construction grit for city homes, at several places the mining has left craters or ditches which look like mini lakes during rains. I would blame unplanned land use, deforestation, irregular real estate development, construction of roads to reach hill top, search of virgin land for farm houses as second homes of city dwellers and illegal mining and blasting of rocks as the major factors leading to landslides and unnatural movement inside the earth. Whenever we have excessive rains, trees and vegetation help holding the soil and earth strata till around 15 meters, which becomes strong enough to prevent the top layer to wash away by wind and rains. Whenever trees are cut and soil around the hills are made loose for making roads and construction, the top strata becomes unstable. Incidentally Malin village came on the way of high amplitude water pressure where the gravity and slope acted against it, resulting in this disaster. It has also been report that on the west side above the village periphery, there has been road construction work going on and at several places illegal mining was done in past.
Mayank Barjatya, Architect (MSc, ecology & environment)

Don't play with nature like this...
For the Malin landslide tragedy, I would blame the illegal deforestation that is taking place in the western ghat range. Especially in the nearby ghat ranges of Bhimashankar, there are a lot of reserved forest areas which are protected against land mining, quarry work or damage to its flora and fauna. However, what we see is all these rules are not followed. Through my survey work of Kaas plateau within the western ghat range, I have noticed that the flora and fauna are very fragile to even tourist visits, fencing, road construction, quarry work, etc. Topographically one sees that there is change in biodiversity of the western ghat for every kilometer. Due to quarry works and road construction, trees are being cut drastically in these ghats. In fact every tree should be protected, by either finding alternative routes for roads or they should be replanted. If we start playing with nature on such a scale, we will have to pay a big price.
Varun Vaze, Senior Analyst, Search

Suitable methods for infra not applied...
The road that passes from the village, cutting the mountain side, should be looked upon as if it was technically built considering the topography of the mountain. These mountain roads either have a steep or slope side, with one having the mountain wall and other side a fall. Engineers have to use suitable methods of stone pitching and wire girdling of the mountain side facing the road, as seen on expressway roads running through the ghat sections. Trees on hills act as top soil holders and for anti-erosion and if tree felling is carried at these areas it can loosen the top strata. With heavy rains the top strata of soil can give away and slide down taking with it rocks, slug and the whole water table. Ecologists and experts have been complaining about unabated illegal mining and stone quarry all over the western ghats, with nobody paying attention.
Ramchandra Gohad, Former state town planning official

We have to correct our ways at the earliest...
We are disturbing the fragile biodiversity of the western ghats and it should be taken as a wake up call for us to correct ourselves. We should find out why there was deforestation and flattening of hill land near Malin village. Who were involved with this land development near the village and what were they planning. Naturally the villagers were not involved with this activity. The Malin village is near to Bhimashankar and a very picturesque place. We should find out if there were plans to exploit the area to make it a hill station. We dont want so many roads in the western ghat regions. Roads are not the only options. Our government, which is acting as the public trustees of our natural resources, are not being responsible. Instead of acting as trustees they are destroying these natural resources. Even with this landslide tragedy, we will not wake up to the clear and present danger. We just believe in destruction of natural resources and construction of so called development projects.
Aneeta Gokhale Benninger, Professor Sustainable Development Planning & Executive Director, CDSA India

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