Landslide Hazard Potential Analysis Using Gis, PatalgangaValley, Garhwal, Western Himalayan Region of India 347
Hazards related to landslides are major societal and environmental concern. These are responsible for considerable socio – economic losses than is generally recognized (Khire, 2004) and because of their socio economic implications as well as the scientific interest, these can be considered as a problem of greater relevance (L. Cascini et al., 1992). The study of landslides has drawn global attention mainlydue to the increasing awareness of its socio-economic impacts and increasing pressure of urbanizationon the mountain environment (Aleotti and Chowdhury, 1999). Landslides have represented 4.89% of the total natural disasters that occurred worldwide during the years 1990 - 2005 (www.em-dat.net).These are rapidly becoming the focus of major scientific research, engineering study and practices, andlanduse policy making throughout the world (Mihail Popescu, 1996). The human activities andnecessities accentuate slope failures, accelerate soil erosion and landslides (Valdiya, 1992).Thedevelopment of human activity has demanded the utilization of unstable slopes which often results insevere damage to the constructions and residential areas (Hermosa et al., 1996).The increasing trend of landslide occurrences will continue in future with the increased unplanned urbanization anddevelopment, continued deforestation and increased regional precipitation due to changing climatic patterns (Schuster,1996) and Ercanoglu and Gokceoglu, 2004).There is hardly any kilometer of the road left without landslides. It is estimated that everysquare kilometer in the fragile Himalaya shows up at least two landslide scars and one more is addedevery 6 kilometer square (Bhandari, et al., 1984). Severity of the problem, as measured by the losses or the damages caused or by the engineering complexity involved, varies widely from location to locationas well as time to time (Rao et al., 1996). For the last three decades frequency of landslides all over hilly areas of the country, particularly in and around developmental sites, has increased. It is thereforerequired to orient the studies in much larger perspective to identify the areas vulnerable to landslidehazards, for sustainable and risk free development. In order to cope with the increasing demand of modern industrialized India a large number of the developmental projects for communication,highways, dams, reservoirs etc has already started and are in their different stages of development outof which some are being executed in and around study area. In view of this, landslide susceptibilityanalysis of the area was initiated to explore the past, present position and future projection in respect of landslide development in the area.
2. Area of Interest and it strategic importance
Patalganga valley, the study area, between latitudes 30
25’ & 30
29’ and corresponding longitudes79
28’ & 79
35’ in North western Himalayan region of Garhwal, was once heavily damaged due todevastating landslides in 1970 (Fig. 1). The heavy rain followed by the cloudburst at the higher reachesof Patalganga generated a series of landslides along the two tributaries of Patalganga. A huge pile of debris discharged by the river Patalganga blocked the main river Alaknanda and built a 20m high dam(Kishor Kumar et al., 2005). With the breaching of dam whole Belakuchi village (Fig.2) hat waslocated at less than a kilometer away from the dam along with many other settlements in thedownstream was flushed within a few hours. The impact of this flashflood was so high that the entireSrinagar city, located about 100 km downstream along Alaknanda, was heavily inundated and wasfilled with silt and sand. Belakuchi (Fig. 2) that was once used as a halting place for thousands of pilgrims and local people en-route to Badrinath shrine disappeared from the scene. A stretch of almost13 km of the road between Pipalkoti and Gulabkoti through Belakuchi (Fig.2) largely got washed awayand the leftover portion was severely damaged and irreparable. To restore the road link on emergency basis, the existing footpath of 350m situated above the damaged alignment was converted into analternate alignment without proper survey and mapping. This activity made the entire stable stretchinto highly landslide prone zone.