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Landslide puts question mark oversetting up of central varsity campus

chandigarh Updated: Aug 12, 2014 23:41 IST
Naresh K Thakur

As debris continued to flow down the slopes at Chohla village situated on the hills overlooking Dharamsala town for the fifth consecutive day after the second massive landslide within a year, it is likely to trigger a debate on setting up of the Dhauladhar campus of the Central University of Himachal Pradesh (CUHP) on fragile hills.

At least 15 families were rendered homeless after a massive landslide, triggered by incessant rains, struck the small village on Saturday evening. The village is situated at the Indrunag hill, the site identified by the state government for setting up the Dhauladhar campus of the university.

Though a geological study, conducted by the state government through experts of the industry department, had cleared the site for construction of the campus building by declaring the hill stable, an independent study conducted by the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology suggests otherwise.

The study conducted by former scientists at the Wadia Institute and dean, School of Life Sciences, CUHP, Prof Ambrish Kumar Mahajan, terms the land an active slide zone.

The study states that the hills overlooking Dharamsala town have rotational slide that covers an area of about 500 metres. The slopes are generally wet due to percolation of water from higher parts .The study has also illustrated transverse cracks and swampy land in Gamru village through photographs.

The main factors behind making these areas active sliding zones are geology, topography, high slope gradient and thick loose soil deposits made of clay material mixed with non-uniform cobbles and blocks.

The study states that Dharamsala town is located between two major thrusts. These tectonic thrusts have developed number of splays that cause a lot of tectonic material in the area and has an affected area of 108 square km.

Last year, 26 families were rendered homeless while 15 army buildings were swept in a landslide that occurred at Tihra Lines village near McLeodganj, which also falls in the active sliding zone.

The previous Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) government had proposed two campuses of CUHP one at Dharamsala and another at Dehra. For the purpose, the government had identified 60 hectares land at Dharamsala and 318 hectares at Dehra.

However, the Congress government identified 120 hectares additional land at Indrunag hill at Dharamsala. The revised plan proposes 80 percent campus of CUHP at Dharamsala and 20% at Dehra as against the plan submitted by the previous BJP government.

However, the BJP is opposing to the revised plan, citing the geological instability of the region and it wants the larger part of the campus to come up at Dehra. The recent landslide on the hill has now given the opposition BJP another chance to rake up the issue.