Cities like Shimla, Kullu, and Solan can slide down from the mountains! Tremendous moisture has penetrated the soil of Himachal Pradesh.

Cities like Shimla, Kullu, and Solan can slide down from the mountains! Tremendous moisture has penetrated the soil of Himachal Pradesh.

Continuous heavy rainfall over the past few days in Himachal Pradesh has escalated a significant threat. This danger stems from moisture seeping into the soil beneath the major cities nestled in the state’s mountains. According to the Meteorological Department, the persistent rain has saturated the ground within the hills. As a result, the soil underneath extensive forests, including those vulnerable to landslides and mudslides, is becoming unstable.

Scientists are now concerned that the rapid rainfall and moisture effects since July 4th could potentially trigger the sliding of cities located atop the mountains in the coming months. Several major districts, including the capital of Himachal Pradesh, are included in these cities. Currently, the state’s meteorological department has requested central agencies to assess the level of moisture in the mountain soil to understand how much saturation has occurred and how many hills are still safe.

Director of the Meteorological Department in Himachal Pradesh, Surendra Pal, expresses worry about the continuous rain creating a potential disaster. Due to the persistent rainfall, moisture has excessively increased in the soil within the mountains. This amplified moisture content poses a significant threat to the existing infrastructure set up on these mountains.

Pal has called for an assessment of the percentage of moisture within the mountain soil, urging both the state and central governments to take prompt action. He explains that most of Himachal Pradesh is mountainous terrain, where excessive rainfall and cloud bursts are escalating the danger. The rainwater is infiltrating deep into the soil, weakening it and consequently raising the risk of landslides and other associated disasters.

The forests on the mountainsides are also struggling to contain the rainwater. The Directorate believes that this situation not only increases the threat but also necessitates immediate preventive measures. With the trees and forests unable to store the rainwater, the concern for the cities situated on the mountainsides has grown substantially.

Cities at Greatest Risk

The Meteorological Department is most concerned about cities in Himachal Pradesh with the highest population density due to the continuous rainfall. Director Surendra Pal states that the cities facing the most imminent danger of landslides and mudslides due to the relentless rain include Shimla, Solan, Mandi, Kullu, Bilaspur, and Sirmaur, along with several major districts and their corresponding cities.

The population in these cities located on the mountainsides is not only increasing steadily but also witnessing unregulated construction. Additionally, the Meteorological Department is alarmed by the fact that most of Himachal Pradesh’s dams and barrages are already full, leading to an elevated water level in the mountains. This increase in water levels could not only intensify the moisture content in the soil but also weaken it.

Triggered by Western Disturbances and Monsoon

According to meteorological data, the upper regions of Himachal Pradesh received the highest rainfall between July 7th and 11th, causing extensive damage due to flooding. Between July 11th and 14th, heavy rainfall led to devastation in areas along the Vyas and Sutlej rivers. Surendra Pal emphasizes that the current rainfall is not only fast and intense in the higher regions but also a result of the interaction between western disturbances and the monsoon, making conditions extremely challenging in Himachal Pradesh.

The meteorological data suggests that the weather is expected to remain relatively normal in Himachal Pradesh for the next five days. However, there are predictions of deteriorating weather conditions starting from August 19th. Agencies are working diligently to assess potential damages and relocate people to safe areas. The Central Ministry of Home Affairs is also closely monitoring the situation and coordinating with the state authorities to mitigate the impact of the deteriorating weather and potential damages.

Himalayan Cities Perched on Vulnerable Slopes

Dr. Arup Chakravarti, a former scientist at the Geological Survey of India, explains that the majority of the population in hilly areas resides on vulnerable slopes. He notes that the heavy rainfall combined with rapidly melting glaciers is accelerating the flow of water into the mountains through rivers, gradually eroding their foundations.

Chakravarti suggests that the recent heavy rainfall over the past two days could prove to be most dangerous for the mountainous regions. He emphasizes that the greatest risk is the potential sliding of the mountainsides. He expresses concern that the ongoing heavy rainfall in Himachal Pradesh poses a significant threat, as the population residing on eroded slopes and the precarious houses and settlements on vulnerable slopes could be at risk. He warns that if this pattern of heavy rainfall continues once or twice more during this monsoon season, it could lead to extremely dire consequences.

Mountain Gravity Center Shifting and Its Consequences

A significant threat is emerging concerning the population residing in the mountains. Geologists warn that the mountain gravity center is shifting from its original position. The ongoing unregulated construction activities are causing the populated mountain areas to become increasingly unstable. Geologist Arup Chakravarti from the Geological Survey of India explains that in the coming days, incidents of mountains shifting are not only expected to increase in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand but also in the hilly regions of northeastern Indian states and neighboring countries like Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet. The combination of heavy rainfall and major events is heightening concerns.

Chakravarti states that the process of mountains shifting is persistently ongoing in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Due to the continuous encroachments on the mountains and unregulated development, the entire gravity center of the mountains has become unstable. The rampant cutting of mountains and haphazard construction has led to this situation. He explains that any mountain can remain stable only when its gravity center remains fixed. However, the stable gravity center that supports the mountains from collapsing due to destruction and unnecessary burden is displaced due to the aforementioned factors. As a result, when heavy rainfall occurs and the rivers flow through the mountainous areas with their force, the destabilized foundation of the mountains has the potential to collapse. These conditions are the most dangerous.

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