Landslide Atlas of India

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) recently released the Landslide Atlas of India, which identifies landslide hotspots in the country. The Atlas includes a database of landslide-prone regions of India based on events during 1998 – 2022, mainly along the Himalayas and the Western Ghats.

What are Landslides and how are they Classified?

Landslides are natural disasters that occur mainly in mountainous areas where the soil, rock, geology, and slope are conducive to such events. They can be triggered by heavy rainfall, earthquakes, snowmelting, flooding, and anthropogenic activities. Landslides are classified based on the type of materials involved, type of movement of the material, and type of flow of the material.

India: Among the Top 5 Most Landslide-Prone Countries in the World

Notably, India is among the top 5 most landslide-prone countries in the world. For the first time, NRSC (National Remote Sensing Centre) scientists did risk assessment on the basis of 80,933 landslides recorded between 1988 and 2022 in 147 districts in 17 states and two union territories to build a Landslide Atlas of India. The risk analysis was based on human and livestock population density, which indicates the impact these landslides have on people, and shows the most landslide vulnerable spots in the country.

Key Findings of the Landslide Atlas of India

The Atlas revealed that Rudraprayag and Tehri Garwhal districts of Uttarakhand have the highest landslide density in the country. The western Himalayan region is the most vulnerable to landslides. Among the 10 most landslide-prone districts, four are in flood-prone areas of Kerala, two in Jammu and Kashmir, and two in Sikkim. After the Himalayas, the Western Ghats has high landslide density.

The new study recorded 80,933 landslide hot spots between 2000 and 2022, with the maximum of 12,385 in Mizoram, followed by 11,219 in Uttarakhand, 7,280 in Jammu and Kashmir and 1,561 in Himachal Pradesh. Among the southern states, the most number of landslide hot spots have been recorded in Kerala (6,039). Between 2010 and 2022, Uttarakhand recorded the maximum landslides in this period. Within the state, Rudraprayag and Tehri districts recorded the highest number of landslides.

Use of Satellite Data to Map Landslide Hotspots

The Atlas used satellite data of ISRO to map all seasonal and event-based landslides like the Kedarnath disaster in 2013 and landslides triggered due to the Sikkim earthquake in 2011.

Environmental Degradation and Climate Change Intensifying Landslide Risk

The landslide risk has intensified over the years due to environmental degradation and extreme weather events such as high-intensity rainfall, which have increased due to climate change.



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