At least 16 families have vacated their houses and one building had to be demolished due to a massive landslide at Bawngkawn here on Thursday. Bawngkawn local council members informed Information & Public Relations Minister Lalruatkima, who visited the site Saturday morning that the 16 families fled their homes as the landslide posed threat to it. One building had been demolished, they said. The landslide between Vishal showroom and Hauva filling station triggered a roadblock on BawngkawnLunglei road, causing a big traffic congestion in the area. Monitored by Aizawl district disaster management authority and PWD, earth excavators were put into operation to clear the blockade. Officials said the roadblock would be cleared by Monday.

When monsoon comes, “living on the edge” is what most of the residents of Mizoram State capital Aizawl, a picturesque city that nestles on top of a beautiful mountain, are practically doing in their day to day lives. Forget about massive earthquake that can rock the otherwise beautiful hill city anytime, most of the city dwellers live in fear of landslides that come every monsoon without fail. This monsoon, the disastrous landslide that caused a massive building at BSUP complex in Durtlang to collapse and claimed three lives has caused sleepless nights to many residents of the city. Geologists’ comments that most of the buildings in Aizawl can meet the same fate as the buildings at Laipuitlang have added fuel to their fears.

The soil in most parts of Aizawl is soft and the topography has an average of more than 35 degree slope. “Due to heavy rainfall and improper drainage and sewerage system, large amount of water penetrate into the soil. This makes the city highly vulnerable to disastrous landslides,” a geologist said. To make matters worse, most of the buildings in Aizawl were constructed without following safety norms and sub-standard materials, particularly iron rods and cement, were used. The city can face a major disaster due to landslides triggered by monsoon rains or earthquake as entire Mizoram is earthquake prone.

Built in 1890, Aizawl turns 129 year this year. But literally speaking, the youthful city looks like an old man waiting for the end to come. The rapid and unplanned urbanisation has made the city more vulnerable to landslides, according to an official in the Disaster & Rehabilitation department. “Landslides in Aizawl are mainly man-made disasters. It can be prevented by taking certain precautionary measures,” he said. A senior geologist at the Geology and Mining department said that the structure of the soil also has something to do with landslides. Many landslide-prone areas in Aizawl are covered with silpaulin sheets to prevent seepage from rains. However, they remain even in the dry season. The geologist advised the cover be lifted during non-rainy season to let the sun harden the soil.

Improper sewage system, dumping of garbage in the drains and littering the environment with polythene bags are other factors behind landslides. Environmentalists have strongly advocated banning of the use of polythene bags. To make matters worse, most of the buildings in the city do not follow safety norms to withstand not alone earthquake but even massive landslides.

AIZAWL, July 28
Assam Tribune
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