After flood and mudslide, Wayanad under grip of land cave-ins
Kerala

After flood and mudslide, Wayanad under grip of land cave-ins

The mudslides during the recent heavy downpour took away hillocks, trees and houses on their way in Wayanad. But now people there are left to face rare fallout, earth caving in and leaving gigantic crevices and even splitting houses.

This has been mostly happening along the ridge lines of the hilly terrains around Tirunelli, Periya and Trisilleri areas affecting around seven panchayats. The district administration has sought a study by experts to analyse the phenomenon.

District Soil Conservation Officer P U Das attributes it to severe rain this season in the district. “The intensity can be gauged by the fact that in the 80 days of the monsoon, Wayanad received rain that should have been spread over one and a half years,” he says.

The felling of trees, indiscriminate quarrying, earth mining and unchecked construction activities left little to contain the massive water flow. He points out that even the summer showers were strong because of which water content in the soil reached saturation. The mud had already turned fragile before the monsoon.

And when it poured with some areas receiving up to 40 cm of rain, the red earth came sliding down. This event affected angle of repose. The velocity and weight of the soil the water brought down grew heavier, more than what the land could bear, he says. Clay and pebbles got separated leaving crevices.

Hill tops in several areas were cut for quarrying. With the heavy rain, the surface runoff was equally high. There have now been instances of an entire land mass settling down, especially in Trisilleri. The phenomenon can continue as slushy areas are still live, warns Das.

It is phenomenon that can spread to other parts of the district, fears social activist and environmentalist M Gangadharan. It was literally hills 'vomiting’ water in many parts of Wayanad. A former school teacher, he says it is simple knowledge that roots of trees hold soil.

But indiscriminate felling of trees over the years has resulted in roots of trees decaying over years and leaving the soil loses. The heavy downpour did the rest and now crevices are common sight across Wayanad.The district administration is to ask the State Government to conduct a study by experts, including geologists, and suggest long-term measures to outlive the catastrophe.