CHENNAI: In an attempt to give some relief to people of disaster-prone Uttarakhand, the Union government has roped-in the Institute of Remote Sensing (IRS) in Anna University to predict the occurrence of landslides in the Himalayan region to enable the local administration initiate appropriate measures that would save several lives.
Under Invited Project Scheme, Department of Science and Technology (DST) is funding a two-year pilot research project titled “The study of landslide related surface displacement using SAR Interferometry” in Mandakini River Valley. The project will be executed by IRS researchers in collaboration with Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI) and Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna (HNB) Garhwal University in Pauri Garhwal district in Uttarakhand.
This is for the first time in India a complicated remote sensing technique like Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) interferometric analysis is being attempted using NASA’s TERRA SAT-X satellite data to address a perennial problem. Mandakini River valley in Rudraprayag has experienced maximum destruction caused by landslides, torrential rains and flash floods in 2013. Already this year, 15 people were killed in rain related incidents.
Dr SS Ramakrishnan, director, IRS, told Express the history of the region indicates that Mandakini valley is prone to landslides, cloudbursts and flash floods. The valley appears to have undergone several phases of tectonic movements, which are depicted by local folds, faults and thrusts.
“What we will be trying to achieve is to first create a complete database of the study area by picking-up landslide signatures using visual interpretation analysis and to do the slope stability analysis using geotechnical characterisation. Metal reflectors will be installed at strategic locations to send strong signals back to the satellite. Even a slight slip of the mass can be detected and also the intensity of the slide, which will then be automatically communicated to the authorities. With current availability of sophisticated engineering methods, the damage can be neutralised. Army personnel and villages abutting the valley can be hugely benefited,” Ramakrishnan said.
R Kanmani Shanmuga Priya, assistant professor and coordinator of the project, said the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute will provide the satellite data and DST is providing financial assistance to procure a special software GAMMA SAR, which alone costs `20 lakh.
“We have finished all the formalities and are waiting for the funds to be released to commence the work.”
DST intends to set-up the permanent capacity building at IRS. “Two scholars - myself and another PhD student Kala Ranjini - will be visiting Norway to get trained in the new and emerging area,” she said.