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Wednesday, Aug 21, 2019

Soil piping in Kerala sounds alarm bells

india Updated: Aug 14, 2019 23:47 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent


Kerala, battered by floods that have killed 102and resulted in losses estimated at Rs 10,000 crore, now has to deal with an unusual phenomenon -- the earth developing cracks and muddy water spouting with great force.

In Wayanad’s Vythiri a double-storied newly-built house moved 12-feet away from its original site even as water gushed out from aroud it; in Kannur a fountain erupted from a crack on the ground. In other areas wells caved in. These are indicators of a serious destabilizing process underground, geologists warned.

The phenomenon is called soil piping and is a result of water forming pipes or hollow tubes underground because of erosion. This weakens the surface layer, which could collapse.

“Soil piping and lateral spread (where soil starts moving downhill) are visible in Kerala only recently. These two are recipes for major disasters,” said V Nandakumar of the National Centre for Earth Science Studies.

The National Centre for Earth Science Studies first found evidence of the phenomenon after last year’s floods in the state.

“Look, we cannot control rains. But we can mitigate damage triggered by extreme rains. Human intervention plays a key role in multiplying damage,” Nandakumar added.

First Published: Aug 14, 2019 23:47 IST

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