Kinnaur landslide blocks NH-5, damages village homes and orchards
KINNAUR- A sudden, massive landslide in Chagaon Panchayat has completely shut down Tapri-Urni (NH-5) in Kinnuar. The rubble has completely engulfed 300 meter stretch from Saraswati Vidhya Mandir curve to Janakpuri on NH-5. The landslide has also caused damage to orchards and to about 10 houses that developed cracks. Some villagers also lost livestock and were forced to evacuate homes. The loss is estimated to be around Rs. 19 lakh. While the authorities have commissioned JCB machines to clear the roads, rocks and rubble still continue to roll down.
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This particular stretch of NH-5 is very vulnerable to landslides and it has witnessed similar landslides earlier. Locals and environmental activists allegedly hold construction of Karcham-Wangtoo Hydroelectric Plant by JP Karcham Hydro Corporation Limited responsible for such cases. In monsoon the condition of the road becomes even more pitiable. So far, HP government has failed to come out with any solution at all. People did receive assurances from the government but never received any relief.
Present incident is also limited to local dailies, which have either avoided or have not mentioned JP Hydroelectric Plant at all. However, the construction of plant has been facing aggressive protests from locals and workers.
The 1000 MW project is located in Satluj river basin in Kinnaur and comprises of a 98 meters high (above river bed) concrete dam with a 17.2 km long head race tunnel. The tunnel passes through four villages, Chagaon, Urni, Yula and Meeru. Blasts for the construction of tunnel have not only hit village homes, but its side-effects on fragile Himalayan ecology have also resulted in phenomenon such as land sliding. Hollow mountains with leaking tunnels mean more vulnerability to land sliding.
What makes it a controversial deal for HP Government is that land sliding is affecting the village area and agricultural land (orchards). A research paper, “Environmental and social impact of Karcham-Wangtoo hydropower project in the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh: a retrospective analysis,” published in Research Gate discusses all possible impacts and consequences of Karcham-Wangtoo project. For this study, 40 stakeholders, 4 from each village, were interviewed and it was found that,
All of these stakeholders emphasized adverse social and environmental impacts, 37 of stakeholders reported that during the time of tunnel digging heavy blasting has produces cracks in their houses. It was observed that the dust from dumping of excavation material of tunnel is affecting the pollination during the flowering of apple (main cash crop) and the apple production decreased after establishment of this project.
One of HW readers posted some images in HW UrNews and said,
Latest land slide near Tapri of Chagaon Panchayat due to Karcham-Wangtoo hydro project. These hydro projects made life in Kinnuar hell. Leaders who supported the company and construction of project are also responsible for it.
According to villagers, frequent landslides have destroyed other similar link and alternative roads too. The debris that ended up inRiver Sutlej can block the water-flow and result in formation of a lake, which could put nearby villages in danger.