by M Ilyas
Vijayawada: The threat to loss of lives, limbs and properties looms large over the people residing on the slopes of Indrakeeladri Hills and other hillocks in Vijayawada town.
Increasing encroachment of the foothills of Indirakeeladri and unchecked construction activity there and on other hillocks have increased the danger of landslips. The digging and other construction activities increase pressure on the hills and the vibrations can cause the loosening of the boulders on the hillocks, which may tumble down in the form of landslips, when heavy rain lashes Indirakeeladri and the other hilly parts of the city.
In this backdrop, there seems to be no effective disaster management plan in place. This is apparent from the fact that the City Disaster Management Authority (CDMA) has not been able to take steps to prevent the incidents of landslips. The Vijayawada Municipal Corporation had formed the City Disaster Management Authority (CDMA) in February 2011 with the VMC commissioner its chairman, city police commissioner as its vice-chairman, district joint collector, irrigation SE, MLAs, fire officer, government department officials and NGOs as members to face the disasters during the floods, landslides and other calamities.
The VMC officials said that the modern equipment like hydraulic cutters, chainsaws, etc., were required for the rescue and relief operations during the landslip and other disasters. But the CDMA lacked these.
City Fire Officer Srinivas Rao told Express that that they were having a tough time in reaching out to the victims during fire mishaps, landslips and wall collapse incidents. He said majority of landslips were occurring on the hills in One Town area.
Four houses were razed to ground in a landslip incident at Brahmananda Reddy Nagar in August last year. In the past few years, there were about 20 incidents of landslips and wall collapse incidents in the city. However, there were no causalities in these incidents, thanks to the alertness of the locals.
According to the information available with the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation, nearly 25 per cent of the people residing in the City have occupied a dozen hillocks located in the City -- Kothapeta, Chittinagar, Tanerpeta, Tunnel Centre, Indrakeeladri, Islampeta, Gollapalemgattu, Mallikarjunapeta, Bhimanavaripeta, Gunadala, Mogalrajapuram and Christurajapuram. All these hillocks are prone to landslips during rainy days.
P Narasimha Rao, a social activist, said that nearly three lakh poor were living on the hillocks and asked the government to construct protection walls to save them from landslips as relocating these people would be a herculean task.
G Mohan, a retired geologist, said that the hills would become weak due to the digging of the foothills. He felt that a total stoppage of all constructions on the hillocks was the only solution to the problem of landslips.
Frequent landslips on the Ghat Road to Kanakadurga temple on the Indrakeeladri have become a cause for worry mainly for the pilgrims visiting the temple. P Venkateswara Rao, a pilgrim, alleged that the temple management had dug up the foothill areas weakening the hilltop further. He said that this was causing such landslips despite having mesh and retaining wall on the Indrakeeladri.
Meanwhile a committee constituted by the state had recommended strengthening and nailing of retaining wall after a careful study of the hill structures. The temple engineering department officials said that they had taken up the works with `5.3 crore for the purpose.