Karnataka: Landslide threat looms in Western Ghats due to loss of forest cover

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Shivamogga (Karnataka) [India], October 15 (ANI): Landslides in the Western Ghats, also known as Malnad region, are now a common phenomenon, due to the declining forest cover and disappearing native varieties of trees, said environmental scientist Shekhar Gowler.

Multiple landslide incidents were reported in June and August following incessant rains in Thirthahalli Taluk of Shivamogga district.

Speaking to ANI, Gowler, who is also a writer and professor, said that landslides are increasing not only in Shivamogga but also in South Karnataka.

“The main reasons are reckless development and destruction of the forest,” he further said.

Noting that the phenomenon is a common occurrence now, the professor said that landslides were witnessed rarely in South India.

“Today, South India is affected by landslides. The Geological Survey of India detected nearly 40 places in Coorg, where landslides are very common. Around six districts come under landslide-affected areas,” said the professor.

Gowler further emphasised that highways are being extended, new railway lines and dams are being built, and many other development projects are being taken up in the Western Ghat region.

“We are recklessly cutting the trees. It is the villagers who are suffering from deforestation. When monsoon starts, villagers are gripped with fear,” he said.

A resident of Bharatipura in Thirthahalli, Shashidhar, told ANI that landslides are increasing due to development projects and monoculture in the forests. He expressed concern about the disappearance of native varieties of trees.

To curb the natural disaster, Shashidhar suggested that planting trees is the foremost step. “We have to plant local varieties of trees. These are the only remedies to landslides,” he said.

He also said another reason for frequent landslides is unscientific practices followed in planting trees.

Shivamogga, Chikkamagaluru, Kodagu, Hassan and Belagavi districts were among the landslide affected areas this year. (ANI)

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