Addressing Geohazards in Himachal Pradesh: Time for an Integrated Earth Science Center

Addressing Geohazards in Himachal Pradesh: Time for an Integrated Earth Science Center

Dr Ritesh Arya at 17000 feet in eastern Ladakh

Himachal Pradesh - Recent events have highlighted the significant and multi-faceted geological challenges facing the state of Himachal Pradesh. Catastrophic consequences of landslides, flash floods, and building collapses largely due to heavy rains have created a crisis narrative. Yet, while there are pockets of alarm, the overall geological stability of the state remains robust.

"Geologically speaking, 90% of Himachal Pradesh is safe. Only 10% is disturbed, and these disturbances are associated primarily with structures and buildings constructed in the last 25 years in geologically unfavorable locations," says Dr. Ritesh Arya, a top geologist and Guinness World Record holder.

Dr. Arya and a team of experts urge the urgent need to establish a Mountain Training Institute and Center for Earth Science and Climate change in the region. The proposed center will be headed by experienced geologists, integrating expertise from various earth sciences. It will develop and implement strategies to combat the potential impact of climate change on infrastructure and sustainable development in the region.

The central task of the Center for Earth Science and Climate change would be mapping roads / projects  specially in unstable regions and demarcating stable and unstable locations objectively, and giving construction permissions only to those areas that demonstrate geological stability. "No roads, bridges, or buildings should be allowed in unstable locations. We need to put the safety and well-being of our communities first," adds Dr. Arya.

Concerning the decision-making process for infrastructure projects, the emphasis hereafter should be on the geological stability of proposed sites. All projects, irrespective of scale, must be backed by thorough geological reports. "Only sound geological projects backed by solid evidence will be considered for development. Those projects bereft of a geological report should not be considered; this is a critical safety issue that we must adhere to moving forward," asserts Dr. Arya.

The recent events serve as a wake-up call to the urgent need for informed, scientifically researched planning and development. Let us use these as an opportunity to make sustainable decisions that empower our communities and protect our beautiful state.

Furthermore, it is crucial to integrate geologists into disaster management planning to assess the potential risks and impacts of natural events like earthquakes. By doing so, we can better prioritize our resources and ensure that essential amenities, such as water and health facilities, are promptly restored following a disaster. Neglecting to involve geologists in these efforts would be a grave mistake, putting us at risk of even more severe consequences in the future. It is imperative that we acknowledge the importance of their knowledge and expertise in effectively mitigating disaster risks.

Together, through the establishment of  Center for Earth Science and Climate change, we can pave the way for a safer and more sustainable Himachal Pradesh.

Dr. Ritesh Arya
Email: []
Phone: +91-9316722291

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