Nearly half of Kerala prone to landslides, soil erosion: study

Rescue workers at a landslide site in Kerala. File Photo
Rescue workers at a landslide site in Kerala. File Photo

Thiruvananthapuram: Landslides and soil erosion are likely to recur in Kerala without drastic interventions aimed at minimising them. A study carried out by experts from universities in Kerala and the US has found that 43 per cent of Kerala's landmass is prone to such disasters. They also found that 17 per cent of the area of the state has become dangerously disaster-prone.

In Idukki 74 per cent and in Wayanad 51 per cent hilly terrain are prone to landslips and soil erosion, says the study which was published by Geological Society of India. 

The widespread heavy rainfall being experienced in Kerala of late has increased the possibility of disasters. 

Dr K S Sajikumar and Dr Thomas Oommen conducted the study jointly. Dr  Sajikumar is an assistant professor at the Department of Geology in the University of Kerala.  Dr  Oommen is a professor of Geological and Mining Engineering at the Michigan Technology University, Houghton, Michigan. 

The study has also analysed the landslips and landslide disasters in the state since 1958. According to official data, 590 deaths have been reported in such disasters. 

The areas prone to landslides in each district have to be mapped employing the GIS Tool for Infinite Slope Stability Analysis (GIS-TISSA). (GIS refers to Geographic Information System.)

Recommendations to overcome landslides 

The researchers suggested a few measures like local rain forecast and the use of photogrammetry to overcome landslides. (Photogrammetry is a technique of obtaining reliable information about physical objects and the environment by recording, measuring, and interpreting photographic images and patterns of recorded radiant electromagnetic energy and other phenomena.)  

A landslide forecast system can be developed by analysing the local rain forecast and mapping the landslide-prone areas, the researchers advised. 

Moreover, the wireless sensor network system being tried in Munnar could be replicated in landslide-prone areas. The use of Interformatic Synthesis Apparature Radar (INSAR) too could be handy for developing a local forecast system.

Utilise the technical know-how to analyse pictures and images captured by unmanned aerial vehicles like drones and employing photogrammetry to predict landslides are also among the measures recommended. 

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