Guardians of ghats are back in Karnataka

Residents of Charmadi, located in the foothills of Western Ghats, have been guardians of the ghats for several years now.

Published: 13th June 2018 05:44 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th June 2018 06:21 AM   |  A+A-

Locals hand out snacks to passengers who were stranded in vehicles on a stretch in Charmadi Ghat following landslide

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Residents of Charmadi, located in the foothills of Western Ghats, have been guardians of the ghats for several years now. As torrential showers triggered landslides in the perilous ghats over the past two days, local residents, under the guidance of social worker U Hasanabba, popularly referred to as Charmadi Hasanabba, were the first to respond yet again. After two days of hectic activity involving clearing trees and mudslides, they have urged the government to ensure adequate equipment near the ghats for relief during the rainy season. This will help the locals in clearing mudslides or trees that have fallen on the road.

The New Indian Express spoke to a few individuals who were among the first to reach the ghats to clear obstructions multiple times during the past two days. Ayaz Afrid, a resident of Charmadi, said there were indications of a landslide in the ghats considering heavy rainfall in the region. The first incident in the ghats which the locals responded to was when bamboo bushes fell on the two-lane NH-66 at 2 am on June 11 affecting the movement of traffic.

People clearing uprooted trees

“After heavy rainfall, two bamboo bushes fell on the road, which we were successful in clearing by the next morning. Soon after, there was a small landslide which was cleared in 15 to 20 minutes,” he said. The team was surprised to find that there were no vehicles plying down the ghats around 5 pm on Monday evening.

Series of landslides leads to traffic jams

Ismail K, another resident of the town, said that after four trees fell, they again rushed to the spot where they had cleared a landslide. “To make the matters worse, two more trees fell about half a kilometre uphill even as we were clearing the four trees,” he said. After concerted efforts by locals and also motorists who were stuck in the ghats, they were able to clear it by 7.30 pm, allowing traffic to flow smoothly. However, the team hoping for a good night’s sleep was alerted of a landslide well past midnight for the second consecutive day.

The third slide occurred around 1 am on Tuesday morning, June 12. “Around 1 am, we were alerted again about the landslide. Mud had accumulated to a height of 20 feet on the road, causing a long traffic jam,” said Hasanabba, the social worker who has handled such problems in the past.

“We couldn’t do anything at that hour and waited till around 6 am to start clearing. By then though, there was a long queue of vehicles with hungry people in the buses,” he said. Considering the plight of people stuck in the ghats, local MLA Harish Poonja, the Belthangady tahsildar and others helped in providing some food to the people who were stranded in buses and other vehicles.

A landslide in the same spot had affected the movement of traffic four years ago, Hasanabba recalled, adding that though there was a possibility of another landslide at the same spot, it wouldn’t be as bad as the one seen on Tuesday.

He also demanded the district administration to have emergency response teams with adequate equipment to clear any trees or mudslides, especially during the rainy season.

‘Not wise to close roads’
While Chikkamagaluru and Dakshina Kannada districts have decided to stop the movement of traffic on the 25-km stretch of Charmadi Ghats, locals have opposed the move. Social worker U Hasanabba said officials should strive to open any roadblocks, rather than blocking the road itself.”

IMD warns of heavy rains in DK
Mangaluru: The region likely to witness another torrential rainfall as the Met has issued heavy rain warning to the region. Light to Moderate spells of rain is likely to affect the district within next 3 hrs. Heavy to very heavy rain is likely to occur at isolated places over all the districts of Coastal Karnataka.

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