The Char Dham Yatra has started in Uttarakhand after last year’s calamities. But the risk of landslides and rockslides would always remain on the hill routes due to the geological structure and composition of the mountains, said Professor MPS Bisht, a geologist at HNB Garhwal University, Srinagar.
After last year’s calamities, repair work on the major roads and bridges is still on and will continue for a long time. There is caution in the air in among the people on account of the fragile condition of the mountains and the impending rains. The mountains have witnessed landslides and soil erosion in the past during the monsoons.
Vijay Panwar, a shopkeeper at Guptkashi said they are apprehensive of the rains. The monsoons would strike in a few weeks and they might face the same situation as last year due to breaking down of roads and movement of debris.
Professor Bisht said the problem is due to the nature of the mountains. “These are the young fold mountains which are still growing. This is leading to most of the problems here,” he said.
He said that the last glacial maxim occurred around 18,000 to 20,000 years ago. The ice melted and the sediments collected there as mud and debris. The loose material must have sedimented in the past and collected on the slopes. During a period of time, vegetation grew on this and habitats flourished. Man started agriculture on these slopes which were lose and unconsolidated. These slopes will remain unstable till the slant come back to their original slope. The debris will keep shifting till this is achieved.
Professor Bisht said, “We can minimize the risk, but we cannot completely wipe it away. We would have to divert roads from the places where the landslides cannot be treated at all. Apart from this, engineering related steps would have to be taken to minimize the risk.”