Bengaluru: Was the H. D. Kumaraswamy government in Karnataka and the Kodagu district in-charge minister Sa Ra Mahesh, sleeping on the job?
Data accessed by Deccan Chronicle from the National Remote Sensing Centre shows that a moderate intensity quake measuring 3.4 on the Richter Scale struck Kodagu, Hassan and Chikkamgaluru and neighbouring Kerala, on July 9.
Exactly four days later, a low-pressure system began building in the Bay of Bengal, triggering the heaviest downpour in a 100 years, in both Kerala and Kodagu, causing losses of hundreds of lives and damage to crores worth of property, with homes and livelihoods left ruined with little hope of a recovery in the immediate future.
Was the HDK government unaware that a quake of such magnitude could trigger landslides especially after the rains loosened the soil and weakened the topography? Why did the government not issue a warning or an alert and evacuate people from harm's way, after the NRS centre issued data on the earthquake, and this became publicly available on the Indian Meteorological Department website the very next day?
Karnataka is now battling a tragedy of enormous proportions, second only to the rain havoc in Kerala. And the worst affected areas are Kodagu and Sakleshpur in which the now blocked Shiradi Ghat is located.
Sources say that this oversight on the part of the government, comes after the rejection of the Kasturirangan report, which had stressed on the need to relocate villagers from many places, which ironically, have now been hit by landslides.
In fact there is an uncanny link between the July 9 quake and the landslides in Kodagu, Hassan and Chikkamagaluru - the quake line passed through Madikeri and Bisale via Narasimharajapura in Chikkamagaluru. Most of the landslides too have taken place along the same line.
Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. And those who scoff at warning signs and the report of a renowned expert like Dr Kasturirangan, who had recommended the evacuation of people from the Ecologically Sensitive Zones in the Western Ghats, are now trying to come to grips with this large-scale destruction in the picturesque hills and how to set things right.
The report had identified 55 villages in Kodagu district for relocation, considering them hyper sensitive zones. Most of the villages which witnessed landslides come under the purview of the report The report mentions Hammiyala, Kaluru, Monnangeri, Mukkodlu, Galibeedu Sampaje, Bhagamandala, Surlabbi and other places. While Mokkodlu and Monnangeri are the worst affected, Bhagamandala and Surlabbi witnessed high level flooding. Other places which found mention in the Kasturirangan report and were also affected this time include Emmethalu, Meghathalu, Athihole and Iggodlu. Even places affected by the landslides near Sakaleshpur and near Narasimharajpur find mention in the report. The Kodava is battling the pain and the loss with his usual martial spirit but somewhere in his mind the question will inevitably arise- - who blundered in not giving him the time and the required information to face up to the deluge from the skies and the earth coming down crashing on him from the hills?