JEYPORE: The Pottangi and Salur ghat road has turned into a death trap for commuters due to frequent landslides. In the last two months, four major and seven minor landslides have occurred on the ghat road. It is a part of the Visakhapatnam-Raipur NH-26, considered the lifeline for people of Southern Odisha and Andhra Pradesh (AP).
Spreading over 40 km, the ghat road begins from Pottangi in Koraput districts and extends up to Salur in Vizianagram district of AP. On average, 3,000 vehicles ply on the ghat road but commuting through it has now turned into a nightmare for people due to frequent landslides.
Large-scale deforestation of hills near the NH and streams flowing down have resulted in soil erosion, leading to landslides. Local tribals of Potangi, Sunki and Salur have been doing Podu (shift) cultivation, also contributing to soil erosion in the ghat section.
Besides, the NHAI had recently widened the NH by cutting the hill close to the ghat road and did not secure the hillside properly. Heavy downpour in the last two months has further aggravated the situation. With soil and boulders falling on the road, locals fear that the debris will further loosen the base of the ghat. For the last two years, transporters in Odisha and AP have been demanding the NHAI and Forest Department to prevent soil erosion through plantation but no step has been taken in this regard. Forest Department expressed helplessness as the NHAI has not given permission to plant trees on the NH side in the ghat section which could protect soil from further erosion. Assistant Conservator of Forests, Koraput, Uma Mahesh said special plantation is required to stop soil erosion. “Plantation in both forest and revenue lands across the ghat would help in protecting the soil”, he said.
Rivers in spate as rains continue
Jeypore: Fear of floods has come back to haunt Koraput again as major rivers in the district continued to swell in the back of incessant rains over the past three days. Due to heavy rainfall in the catchments of Telingiri, Indiravati, Kolab, Saptadhara, Saveri, Jhanjabati, Patali and their tributaries, the rivers are flowing close to the danger level and may cross the red mark if rains continue for another 24 hours. Communication to both rural and urban areas has been affected as villages in Borrigumma, Kotpad, Dasmantpur, Narayanpatana, Boipariguda, Kundra, Jeypore and Boipariguda blocks have been cut off from the mainstream. Vehicles remained stranded due to bad road condition between Kotpad and Sunki NH stretch. Road between Borrigumma and Koraput through Ranigad was blocked due to landslide near Dayanidhiguda in Koraput block today. The District Emergency wing has alerted revenue, fire and block officials of possible flood in Kotpad, Borrigumma and Kundra blocks. Water level in Upper Kolab dam reservoir rose to 854 mt on the day. Rains also cast shadow on Nuakhai celebrations.