Describe the various causes and effects of landslides. Mention the important components of the National Landslide Risk Management Strategy. (250 words) [2021]

Landslides are defined as the movement of a mass of rock, debris, or earth down a slope due to gravity. They are a type of mass wasting, which refers to any downward movement of soil and rock under the influence of gravity. Landslides can be caused by both natural and anthropogenic factors.

  • Natural causes of landslides include earthquakes and excessive rainfall. Earthquakes can cause the earth’s crust to shake violently, putting stress on materials and causing landslides. In regions with steep slopes, heavy or continuous rain can also cause landslides. Water can loosen the material by acting as a lubricant.
  • Anthropogenic causes of landslides include infrastructure development, mining, deforestation, and unsustainable tourism. The creation of roads, railways, dams, etc. in mountainous regions can result in landslides. Mining, which involves removing the surface of the earth for mineral exploration, can also loosen the grip of material and potentially cause landslides. Deforestation, or the cutting of trees for agricultural and industrial activities, can also loosen the soil grip and make the region more vulnerable to landslides. Unsustainable tourism, or the increasing influx of tourists in a particular region, can also put pressure on land and result in more construction and therefore, greater landslides.

The consequences of landslides can be severe, including:

  • Loss of life: The loss of human and animal lives is the most devastating effect of a landslide.
  • Restriction of movement: Mud, rocks, and debris sliding down a slope can create a barrier on important traffic corridors such as highways and railway lines, restricting movement.
  • Damage to infrastructure: When a landslide occurs, several homes, buildings, roads, and other infrastructure can be affected.
  • Economic losses: Rebuilding infrastructure, rehabilitating affected individuals, and providing aid to those impacted by a landslide can result in significant economic losses.
  • Jeopardized water availability: When landslides occur on the slopes of a river valley, the sliding material may reach the bottom of the valley and block the river channel, partially or completely. This can reduce the amount of water available to surrounding residents.

To address the risks and impacts of landslides in India, the National Landslide Risk Management Strategy was developed. It includes components such as risk assessment and mapping, early warning systems, capacity building, and emergency response and rehabilitation. These efforts aim to minimize the occurrence of landslides and mitigate their impacts when they do occur.

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