Recent instances of heavy rainfall in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, and Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, have underscored the urgency of protective measures. The India Meteorological Department issued a "red alert" for these states due to the intense rainfall. Himachal Pradesh, in particular, has faced considerable damage, with numerous deaths reported, and over 17,000 sites prone to landslides have been identified in the state. Both structural and non-structural measures and practices or techniques should aim to mitigate the adverse impacts of landslides on road infrastructure and communities in landslide-prone areas.
More specifically, in states like Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, that have been affected by landslides, the Central government is devising plans to enhance protective measures for roads. These measures involve adopting internationally recognized techniques. The strategy encompasses the implementation of improved retaining walls, drainage systems, and physical barriers to reduce the impact of landslides on road infrastructure in hilly regions. Additionally, the government is exploring the Swiss approach to early landslide warnings, which employs sensor data to monitor ground movements and weather conditions, facilitating timely alerts when necessary.
Part of this effort includes considering the use of specialized Swiss glass fiber bolts, designed to reinforce weak rock formations prone to disintegration, thus triggering landslides. The cost of each of these bolts is approximately Rs 5,000, and they are frequently employed in Western traffic engineering for stabilization. In light of recent heavy rainfall in hill states, the introduction of concrete roads capable of withstanding severe weather conditions is being explored. Financial assistance, amounting to Rs 400 crore, has already been allocated from the Central Road and Infrastructure Fund to support road reconstruction in Himachal Pradesh.
Drawing inspiration from the Swiss model, the Central government and state authorities intend to emphasize non-structural tactics for preventing landslides. This involves strategies such as land-use planning and educating local residents to minimize risks, safeguard lives, and protect property. Apart from these measures, the Swiss government's substantial investment in research and development for landslide prevention has contributed to the effectiveness of their approach. In particular, Switzerland's comprehensive understanding of geological, geomorphological, and hydrological factors enables the identification of landslide-prone areas and the assessment of potential events.