Madikeri: Kodagu Deputy Commissioner (DC) Annies Kanmani Joy has ordered the Forest Department to close ‘Ingu Gundi’ (soak pits) and contour trenches atop Brahmagiri Hill ranges at Talacauvery.
In the wake of Geological Survey of India (GSI) submitting its primary report on the devastating landslip on the night of Aug. 5 this year where Gajagiri Hill (Brahmagiri Hill Range) collapsed, the DC has asked the Forest Department to take remedial measures within the next monsoon.
Two houses at the foot of Gajagiri Hill with its five residents, including the chief priest of the Talacauvery Temple were swept away and vast swathes of coffee plantations were buried under the debris on Aug. 5. The GSI report has found that a series of ‘Ingu Gundi’ dug up by the Forest Department was the main cause for the Hill to collapse. ‘Ingu Gundis’ are small pits to collect rainwater for recharging groundwater. The DC issued this direction at a meeting held at Talacauvery Forest Guest House on Friday that was attended by Forest Department officials, GSI officers Aizaz from Jammu and Kashmir, Kamal Kumar from Uttar Pradesh and Senthil Kumar from Tamil Nadu. The officers told the DC that ‘Ingu Gundi’ and trenches must not be dug up atop any mountain range in Kodagu that is near to human habitation.
GSI analysis said that multiple contour trenches and ‘Ingu Gundi’ dug up at the mid-slope of Gajagiri Hill for conservation of water and increased human interference in this ecologically sensitive area caused the landslip.
The meeting discussed the measures to be taken during monsoon like shifting residents from danger zones, constitution and co-ordinating with local-level disaster management committees. Assistant Conservator of Forests (ACF) Nilesh Shinde explained the measures taken by the Forest Department and assured that the trenches and ‘Ingu Gundi’ would be closed to prevent further damage. All pits and trenches on the slope will be monitored and filled up with impervious material to restrict any infiltration of water, he said.
Following the GSI suggestion that appropriately designed retaining structures of suitable height with firm foundation must be erected from road level for checking slope failure, the DC and other officials visited the landslide area to take suggestions from the team. PWD Executive Engineer Madan Mohan informed that retaining wall will be constructed on the foot of collapsed Gajagiri Hill that leads to Talacauvery Road. The Rs. 75 lakh proposal is in tender stage after obtaining administrative clearance from the State Government.