Study landslide-prone areas regularly: Dr. H.S.M. Prakash

MADIKERI: In April this year, retired Deputy Director-General of Geological Survey of India (GSI), Dr. H.S.M. Prakash had predicted that the devastating natural calamity that rocked Kodagu and Kerala last year will haunt these regions again this year.

Dr. Prakash emphasises that he is not proud his predictions came true but hopes we can work towards mitigating the impact of landslides.

Underscoring the importance of studying the phenomenon, in an exclusive email interview with Kodagu Connect, Dr. Prakash urges weathermen to become climate scientists and analyse paleoclimate in particular to understand the whole gamut of events all over the globe.

Here are the excerpts of the interview.

Do you think the 2019 floods and landslides in Kodagu are linked to climate change?
The unprecedented floods and landslides in Kodagu, Kerala and all over India in August 2019 are due to climate change with deep ramifications. To grapple with the impact of climate change is very difficult for any one scientist or for any one sub-discipline. It has inter-disciplinary connections. A proper understanding of science in toto and the whole of the earth as one unit with all its four spheres and a proper appreciation of global developments are necessary to talk about climate change.

Is irresponsible environmental policy also to be blamed for successive floods and landslides in Kodagu?
Environmental policies are there on paper but they are followed in their violations. Anthropogenic intervention definitely accelerates the climate change and its impact not only in Kodagu but elsewhere too.

What explains the increasing number of landslides in hilly terrains in Kodagu?
Landslides can be caused before onset of earthquakes as dry slides and during monsoon as wet slides. We must study vulnerable landslide prone arrears regularly all over India. The increase in massive landslides is due to torrential rains resembling cloudburst like scenarios.

Are there any measures the local administrations can take to prevent floods and landslides from happening again?
Remodelling and reorientation of the human settlements (wherever needed) based on ground realities like geomorphology, quality of local rocks, hydrological parameters etc on modern and scientific lines which can stand for next 100 years should be done instead of this ad hoc and tatkal service. We cannot stop landslides but we can be away from such zones. We should also know how to mitigate their impact.

What are your suggestions to people of Kodagu during monsoon?
People of Kodagu are brave. When I gave the forewarning to Kodagu and six other districts in April 2019 they became alert, vacated their homes in dangerous zones and moved to safe zones. They should demand safe flood shelters with all facilities for a minimum and maximum of 200 people at several places in Kodagu instead of huddling them in schools and halls.

Do you think official weather predicting agencies should create more models for forecasting?
Weather forecasting agencies should educate itself to take other influencing factors on climate into consideration. They are weatherman. They should become climate scientists and study paleoclimate in particular to understand the whole gamut of events all over the globe. One should realise that there are no line of controls and check posts in the atmosphere.

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