Villages prone to natural disasters to be identified: Maharashtra CM Chavan

‘The main cause of these natural disasters is the government itself’

Mumbai: A "complete study" of Maharashtra would be conducted to identify villages prone to natural calamities in the aftermath of the landslide at Malin near Pune, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has said.

"We will be doing a complete study of the state to find out if there are other villages that are prone to natural disasters. I have instructed my officials to conduct a survey and submit a report," Chavan told PTI in an interview here.

The government's focus is to find survivors in the Malin tragedy after which a long term plan will be looked at, he said.

The landslide, which flattened about 45 villages at Malin near Pune and virtually wiped the village off the map, has so far claimed 151 lives, including 59 men, 71 women and 21

children. Carcasses of 50 animals too have been extricated in the rescue operation.

"Right now we are focusing on finding out if anybody has survived the Malin tragedy and to take out the all bodies from the rubble. Once this is over, we will look at a long term plan to resettle the remaining villages (prone to natural calamities)," Chavan said.

The government is waiting for a preliminary report from concerned officials to ascertain if there are other villages in immediate danger, he said.

"We are doing preliminary enquiries and finding out if there is any danger to other villages. Once the reports come, we will initiate necessary steps," he said.

Meanwhile, activists and nature conservationists have slammed the state government's "pro-development plan", saying that development at the cost of nature is the trigger for such natural disasters.

"The main cause of these natural disasters is the government itself. I would call them man-made disasters. The government should realise their development policies are killing people," said Debi Goenka, executive trustee of Mumbai-based NGO Conservation Action Trust, which is working to protect biodiversity and forests in the state.

"Government should be pro-development, but not at the cost of forests. Real development can never be at the cost of environment. Such development is only a money-making gimmick done to buy votes. Such projects will always create hazards for the environment," he added.

Sudheendra Kulkarni, chairman of Observer Research Foundation Mumbai, said, "These (Malin-like landslide) are man-made disasters appearing in the form of a natural disaster."

All over India, there is rampant deforestation and felling of trees, which are causing landslides, soil erosion and diversion of the courses of rivers that are leading to terrible calamities for the common people, he said.

"If you want to prevent future landslides, there must be very strict regulations on cutting of trees and forests for development in the region, specially in areas that are vulnerable to such disasters," he added.

( Source : PTI )
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