S P Sati
Mahakali, also known as Sharda in India, gushes through the hilly tracts of Nepal and Uttarakhand, collecting its water from the numerous streams it receives on the way.
However, increasing anthropogenic intervention in the recent times appears to be contributing to terrain instability in addition to natural factors, as observed by increasing frequency and magnitude of landslides since 1970.
During August and September 2010, Uttarakhand Himalaya witnessed large-scale slope destabilization, particularly along the roads where widening work was in progress leading to huge damage. The cause of regional-scale landslides has been attributed to exceptionally high rainfall in the region during September. When the average rainfall for the month of August and September from 2000 to 2009 is compared with rainfall data of the same period of 2010, it was found that in September 2010, 336 per cent higher rainfall was received by the area. However, the question that arises is: was it unusual rainfall-induced calamity or a result of human intervention?