Globe Heritage Working day: ‘Himalayan geo-heritage websites beneath hazard to road constructing actions’

DTE talks to ON Bhargava, geology professor at Panjab College, Chandigarh about why roads ought to be created within the Himalayas on the muse of correct certified info

A photograph of the trace fossil of a giant scorpion. Photo: Prof Erich Draganitis, Vienna University

{A photograph} of the hint fossil of a big scorpion. Image: Prof Erich Draganitis, Vienna Faculty

Down To Earth places the highlight on geo-heritage web sites within the Himalayan area on the scenario of Surroundings Heritage Working day on April 18, 2022. These areas are remaining destroyed resulting from road design actions, in line with specialists.

In a dialogue with DTE, ON Bhargava, honorary professor, geology part, Panjab College, Chandigarh, talks in regards to the geo-heritage websites shed to highway development routines, why we now have to must protect them and the way mindless constructing pursuits might probably enhance the chance of disasters. Edited excerpts:

Rohini Krishnamurthy: Why is highway development threatening geological data within the Himalayas?


ON Bhargava: The Himalayas are a fairly heat material. They’re the one illustration in the complete world the place you will have a continental-continental collision (collision of Indian and Eurasian plates).

Completely everybody desires to reach listed right here. The very very first thing they do is assessment the geological paperwork (sequence of rocks or the geological framework of the study area and fossil information) seen on the roads.

New freeway constructions and widening efforts are destroying these paperwork. I’m not versus road constructing.

In actuality, streets can reveal new geological options. However there ought to be a technique. The value at which the roads are remaining broadened is a subject of downside.

They’re in a rush to construct roadways and will not be consulting geologists. Within the Fifties, roadways have been designed in Ladakh by the Military with the help of a succesful geologist BN Raina. These roads have been being so wonderful and regular. In addition they uncovered good geological sections.

Now, what’s going on is that they’re broadening current roads and constructing havoc.

RK: Might you talk about a number of the essential geological info misplaced?

ONB: The Spiti Valley had a peculiar hint fossil — the impact of a movement of an animal — of an enormous scorpion.

It’s found solely in three locations — Antarctica, India (Spiti Valley) and Australia. Indiscriminate road establishing has destroyed the fossil proof in India. We won’t see it anymore.

We additionally misplaced a 200-million-yr-previous coral reef — the perfect publicity within the Spiti Valley. They begun making a canal applicable above it and the product fell on it. I acquired in touch with the subdivisional Justice of the Peace of Spiti and managed to stop it. As shortly as he nonetheless left, the following particular person continued and you actually do not see the reef any longer.

RK: Wherein are we maximal harm?

ONB: It’s on the Kalka-Shimla freeway. This portion was practically like a textbook to us as learners and even foreigners. Through it, we will have an understanding of the total geological heritage of this ingredient of the Himalayas.

They’re making an attempt to broaden the freeway. When the freeway is broadened, you decrease the slope, producing the stabilised slope unstable. And to finish rocks from sliding down, they’ve manufactured a concrete wall, blocking essential geological attributes.

RK: Why are geological paperwork vital and why can we need to shield them?

ONB: The foremost objective of any geological investigation is to systemically eradicate spots which are of no geological significance. However in due class of time, we now have the tutorial ingredient as successfully, which ultimately is utilized to discovering mineral deposits.

In that course of, we function out the geological historic previous of the Himalayas. Geologists are like detectives. They get hold of distinctive bits of details, piece them alongside each other like a jigsaw puzzle and generate the geological background of that terrain.

Quite a few intervals, the proof will not be complete. Typically, the doc could be missing and different cases, we go up the proof or overlook it. No make any distinction how an awesome deal I check, I merely can’t see every particular person sq. inch of an area, I might miss some.

And the diploma of experience within the earlier was not so wonderful and this influences how we interpret it. Afterwards, when some rather more info and details comes out, we need to revisit geological websites.

RK: Might you converse about how highway design routines are elevating the hazard of disasters ?

ONB: Every particular person slope has a singular dwelling. They must must glimpse on the rock sorts related: It may very well be shale, limestone, or sandstone. Chopping slopes have to additionally take note of the inclination of the rocks — wherever they’re dipping steeply throughout the hill or exterior the home. In a rush, authorities have produced vertical cuts, constructing the slope terribly unstable and making a ton of slides.

By establishing a wall, you might be stopping these slides solely shortly. Primarily as a result of the second the slope has been disturbed, the forces inside are nevertheless functioning. A time will arrive when the forces will overcome the power of the wall and it might maybe harm the wall. That is attainable to transpire.

A further element is that although widening these roads, so significantly muck is made and is all thrown into the close by river. This modifications the river dynamics. The worst is that in scenario of heavy rains or cloudbursts, the full subject will get mobilised and it performs as a extraordinarily stable strain and something downstream will get disturbed. That is what occurred in Chamoli.


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