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Geo-Disaster and Its Mitigation in Nepal

Geo-Disaster and Its Mitigation in Nepal

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Published by Somanta Bhattarai

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Published by: Somanta Bhattarai on Jul 19, 2013
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02/18/2014

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Geo-Disaster and Its Mitigation in Nepal
Ranjan Kumar Dahal and Netra Prakash BhandaryAbstract
Geologically young and tectonically active Himalayan Range ischaracterizedbyhighlyelevatedmountainsanddeeprivervalleys.Themountainousterrains of Nepal Himalaya are characterized by dynamic physical processes, andtherefore,mitigationofgeo-disasterisabigchallenge.Abetterunderstandingofthegeological nature of the terrain and the interaction of various triggering factors of geo-disaster will greatly help in the development of safer infrastructures, mitigationof geo-disaster, and control of land degradation in the Himalaya. Over the years,Nepal has gained a significant amount of experiences in geo-disaster studies,especially in design and survey of geo-disaster mitigation programs, in the fields of hazard and risk assessment, in low cost rural road engineering; in community basedriver training work and in slope maintenance incorporating indigenous techniques.This chapter provides an overview of geo-disasters in Nepal and their mitigationefforts. In this chapter, all geological zones of Nepal are evaluated from theperspective of geo-disaster occurrences. Geo-disaster mitigation efforts of bothgovernmentalandnon-governmentalsectorsarealsoevaluated.People’sperceptionfor geo-disaster mitigations efforts are also discussed in this chapter.
R. K. Dahal (
&
)Department of Geology, Tribhvuan University, Tri-Chandra Campus,Ghantaghar, Kathmandu, Nepale-mail: ranjan@ranjan.net.npR. K. Dahal
Á
N. P. BhandaryEhime University, 3 Bunkyo-cho, Matsuyama, Ehime, Japan 790-8577F. Wang et al. (eds.),
Progress of Geo-Disaster Mitigation Technology in Asia
,Environmental Science and Engineering, DOI: 10.1007/978-3-642-29107-4_6,
Ó
Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013
123
 
1 Introduction
Nepal is a highly mountainous country between China in the north and India in thesouth, east and west with an area of 147,181 sq. km. It occupies about 800 km longcentral part of the Himalayan arc, which has been formed by the collision of Indianand Eurasian plates. Nepal is mainly characterized by rugged topography, veryhigh relief, variable climatic conditions, complex geological structures affected byactive tectonic process and seismic activities. Topographic elevation changes from60 m in the southern plain to 8,848 m at the Mt Everest within a north–southhorizontal distance of less than 200 km. This kind of topography is highly prone togeo-disaster. The seasonal monsoon rains, intense but improper land use practicesmake the Nepalese Himalayas the most unstable landscapes in the world.Steep slopes are the key features of the Himalayan geomorphology. Rapid upliftfrom Miocene, which continues even today, has created local relief measurable inkilometres from river valleys to peaks. As a result, large-scale valley slopecreeping (large-scale landslides) due to gravity has been prolonging from the earlyuplift of mountains, and it is a common feature. Thus, landslides may be regardedas one end of the spectrum of slope modification processes in the Nepal Himalaya(Waltham1996). The combination of the weak rock and thick soil cover andmonsoon climate makes each physiographic zone of Nepal prone to geo-disaster(Dahal2006, Dahal et al.2009). In these contexts, for development of safer infrastructures, mitigation of geo-disaster and environmental degradation in theHimalaya, a better understanding of geological nature of terrain and interplay of prime triggering factor with soil and rock is indispensable.Nepal suffers from tremendous natural disasters every year, especially land-slides and floods. In Nepal, landslide, floods, earthquakes and snow avalanche areconsidered as major geo-disasters. Floods are included in geo-disasters in Nepal,particularly, because both geological and hydro-metrological causes involve inflooding. A great number of people are affected by large- and small-scale geo-disaster throughout the country, particularly during monsoon periods. Themeasured values of mean annual precipitation in Nepal range from a low of approximately 250 mm in north of the Himalaya to exceeding 6,000 mm inwestern Nepal. The annual rainfall in capital city Kathmandu (central Nepal)generally exceeds 1,350 mm. The mean annual rainfall varying between1,500 mm and 2,500 mm predominate over most of the country. The daily dis-tribution of precipitation in the country during rainy season is also uneven.Sometimes, 10 % of the total annual precipitation can occur in a single day.Similarly, 50 % of the total annual rainfall can also occur within 10 days of summer. Such an uneven rainfall pattern is thought to play an important role forgeo-disasters in Nepal (Dahal2009). In 1988, a huge landslide at Darbang of Myagdi District, about 250 km west of Kathmandu, killed 109 people and tem-porarily blocked the Myagdi River (Yagi et al.1990). Likewise, one such event of debris flow along Arniko Highway (at Larcha, Bhotekoshi) of central Nepal, killed54 people in 1996 (Adhikari and Koshimizu2003).
124 R. K. Dahal and N. P. Bhandary
 
Nepal lies in the seventh position for deaths resulting as consequences offloods,landslides and debris avalanches and in the eighth position for flood-related deathsalone (Upreti2010). The record of loss of lives due to various types of disasters inNepal between 1983 and 2011 is presented in Fig.1. In the last 30 years, every yearabout 860 people lost their lives due to geo-disasters. Unlike landslides and floods,earthquake, glacial lake outbrust floods (GLOFs) and snow avalanche do not occurevery year. Landslides and floods are most prominent geo-disasters in Nepal and onanaverage,theykill270peopleperyear.TherecordsrevealthatinSouthAsia,Nepalstands third in having highest number of average annual human deaths per millionliving population, behind Sri Lanka and Bangladesh (Upreti2010).During the past 100 years, three great earthquakes (Table1a) occurred alongthe Himalayan front. From east to west, the sequence includes 1905 Kangraearthquake (Mw *7.8), 1934 Bihar-Nepal Earthquake (Mw
=
8.1), and the 1950Assam Earthquake (Mw *8.6). After 1934 Bihar-Nepal Earthquake, seven majorearthquake hit Nepal and the lastest is Sikkim/Nepal Border Earthquake of September 18, 2011. In this earthquake, 14, 544 houses were damaged (6, 435completely destroyed), 6 people were killed and 30 people were injured in Nepalonly (Table1b).Similarly, various studies show that global warming effect in the NepalHimalaya has increased the temperature by 0.15–0.6
°
C per decade in last threedecades (Shrestha et al.1999), which is two to eight times higher than the rise inthe global average temperature presented by International Panel of ClimateChange (IPCC2001). As melting of glaciers are one of the indicators of globalwarming, the impact is clearly seen in the Himalayan glaciers. About 6 % of glacier area has been decreased in the glacial basins and sub-basins of easternNepal from 1970s to 2000. Shrinking, retreating and decreasing of glacier surface
02004006008001000120014001982 1985 1988 1991 1994 1997 2000 2003 2006 2009 2012
Years
   H  u  m  a  n  c  a  s  u  a   l   t   i  e  s
110010000
   H  u  m  a  n  c  a  s  u  a   l   t   i  e  s
heshol line
Fig. 1
Annual human life loss from geo-disaster in Nepal form 1983 to 2011. The data in righty-axis is human casualties due to landslide and floods onlyGeo-Disaster and Its Mitigation in Nepal 125

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