900 319 0030

Floods and landslides in mountain areas

iasparliament Logo
August 23, 2022

Why in news?

Development of mountain areas over the years has upset the ecological balance.

What are the reasons behind these landslides?

  • Monsoon rainfall over India is 8% more than what is usual for this time of the year.
  • While this might bode well for agriculture in some regions, it also means floods and concentrated downpours with devastating consequences.
  • Torrential rains have triggered flash floods and landslips in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
  • Several arterial roads were blocked by debris, as currents washed away bridges and vehicles.
  • The toll was higher in Himachal Pradesh and Mandi, Kangra, and Chamba were the worst-affected districts in the State.

What are the consequences of the torrential rains?

  • While death and damage to property are the surface manifestation of these rains, there are a range of secondary effects with long-term downstream impact.
  • The continuous efforts made by the Government to cope with natural hazards through relief and rehabilitation measures are not paying off.
  • Landslides and snow avalanches continue to inflict widespread harm and damage to human life as well as property.
  • The roads that are the State’s lifeline are repeatedly damaged, blocked or washed away by one or other acts of nature.
  • Schools and transport facilities, for instance, are immediately put out of action, leading to loss of productive hours.
  • Cattle and saplings are left to perish, which in turn destroys livelihoods, debilitates family finances and strains the finances of the state exchequer.
  • The monsoon compresses around 75% of India’s annual rainfall into four months and unevenly waters the country’s highly diverse terrain.
  • It is, therefore, inevitable that some spots are far more vulnerable and bear a disproportionate impact of climate fury.
  • While hill States such as Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand have certain unique challenges, the threats from the vagaries of climate are not unique to them.
  • Monsoon rain patterns are being disrupted leading to a rise in cloudburst-like events as well as a rise in the frequency of high-energy cyclones and droughts.
  • A report was released by Himachal Pradesh’s Department of Environment, Science and Technology.

What are the findings of the report released by the Himachal Pradesh’s government?

  • Himachal Pradesh is vulnerable to 25 out of 33 types of hazards identified by the Government of India.
  • The report underlines that mountain areas are highly vulnerable to natural disasters.
  • This is due to the development over the years that has compounded the problem by upsetting the ecological balance of various physical processes.
  • The increased pressure on the mountain environment has contributed in some measure to environmental problems such as landslides, land subsidence, removal of vegetation and soil erosion.
  • According to one estimate, about 58.36% of the land is subjected to intense soil erosion, the majority of which is located in the Himalayas and Himachal Pradesh.
  • This region forms part of the Western Himalayas, which is environmentally fragile and ecologically vulnerable.
  • The fragile ecology of the Mountain State coupled with large variations in physio-climatic conditions has rendered it vulnerable to the vagaries of nature.

What is the way forward?

  • The India Meteorological Department now provides fortnightly, weekly and even three-hourly weather forecasts to districts.
  • Not all of these are accurate and often, they are not provided early enough for authorities to prepare themselves.
  • Hence, the department must work towards providing the accurate forecasts.
  • The inherent risks of infrastructure development in hills and unstable terrain still exists.
  • The increased risk and cost to such projects and infrastructure should be factored in when they are tendered out by the government.
  • Scientific advice regarding development ought to be strictly adhered to.



  1. https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/factoring-in-the-risk/article65800059.ece
  2. https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/annual-trysts-with-natures-fury-reveal-himachal-pradeshs-reckoning-with-fragile-ecology/article65790936.ece
Login or Register to Post Comments
There are no reviews yet. Be the first one to review.



Free UPSC Interview Guidance Programme