In the month of August, Kodagu district in the state of Karnataka witnessed flooding due to heavy rains. Nearly 18 lives were lost in the deluge and now a detailed report on the floods reveals that this disaster was due to human activities.
Technical Study Report on Floods and Landslides in Kodagu by Save Western Ghats Movement was submitted to the Deputy Commissioner of Kodagu. The 13 member team visited Landslide affected areas of Kodagu on September 23 and 24 to study the reason for the landslides after heavy rains hit the region.
The finding of the report suggests that man-made activities triggered landslides in Kodagu during the floods. The Technical Report noted that composition of the soil was very loose and cutting of hills for development activities such as the construction of roads and buildings, further weakened the strength of the soil. Rampant mining in the fragile ecosystem along with unscientific farming especially the creation of contour trenches for coffee plantation was noted as other reasons for this calamity.
The report to the Deputy Commissioner recommends a detailed study on Quarrying in the region. It says that permission to conduct mining must be allowed only after an expert study analyses the impact of quarrying activities in Kodagu.
The report has also suggested the use of local material and traditional methods in construction activities that will henceforth take place in the region. It also recommends regeneration of natural habitat by using indigenous plant species. The report calls on the state govt to develop an organic farming policy to ensure there is a paradigm shift from unscientific farming to organic farming. The team has also suggested a ban on land filling in the wetland located in Kodagu as a measure to counter shrinking buffer zones that are essential for water and land conservation.
Raj Bhagat Palanichamy member of WRI India spoke to Republic and had this to say on the subject of Kodagu Floods, 'The floods were not a man-made disaster, the floods were a once in a century event. The damage got aggravated due to human interference for both the floods and the landslides. During construction a scientific process must be properly followed, data should be analysed. The data-driven scientific method will be the way forward.'