KARWAR: A massive landslide laid waste to an areca plantation in Mathigatta village near Sirsi on Tuesday. Two weeks ago, four people, all farm labourers, were buried alive in a similar landslide near a hillock in Santebail Idagundi village near Yellapur. In both cases, the ground adjoining the hillock was cleared, resulting in landslides.
Experts have blamed the landslides on deforestation and the use of heavy machinery to clear the earth. “The Western Ghats are loosely held by vegetation that has been growing for decades. It does not have any rocky structure underneath. A small disturbance will lead to such accidents,” said Shivananda Kalave, a local environmentalist.
He said that many such incidents were reported in the district. The villages around Jaji Gudda in Sirsi and a few parts of Yellapur and Siddapura were highly vulnerable to such situations. “I have travelled to most of these places. People interfere with the vegetation and in most cases, they clear fully-grown vegetation. There is no regreening,” he added.
He said that they try to shift the soil which has accumulated in these spots, which aggravates the situation. “Similar incidents happened in Yana near Gokarna,” he said. He added that the best solution was not to interfere with the vegetation and is they do so, the soil should not be cleared.
Balachandra Hegde Sayimane, another expert, said that the landscape in these areas was made up of loose soil. “Once cracks develop after clearing the vegetation, the situation gets worse. Earth movers should not be used to clear the soil. Instead, there should be some sort of afforestation done to strengthen it,” he said. He said monsoon would be worse this year in these places as it would be difficult for the soil to retain water.