Irshalwadi Village, where at least 16 people were killed in a landslide on Wednesday night, is not a landslide-prone area, and was not included in a list of potential fissure sites, as per a Geological Survey of India (GSI) report.
According to the Raigad district administration, there was no landslide incident in the past. “The Thakar Tribe village is located close to the Irshalgad Fort, which is a popular trekking destination. It falls under Mauje Chowk near Manivali Village in Khalapur Taluka and is accessible on foot only,” an official from the Raigad collector’s office said.
The taluka recorded a total of 499mm of rain in three days from July 17 to 19.
Environmentalists, however, attributed the tragedy to quarrying in the region and called for a thorough study of similar areas.
“The Chief Minister’s Office responded within four hours to our mail calling for a ban on quarrying. I forwarded our email to Dr Rajgopal Devara, Principal Secretary, Revenue, asking him to look into the issue and take further action,” NatConnect Foundation Director BN Kumar said. The environmental group said it will follow up with the government as continuous and high-intensity blasts have a far-reaching impact in terms of loosening the soil on hill slopes.
Greens called for study of soil conditions
A number of quarries are functioning at various places in Raigad and it is time that a hill development regulatory authority is formed to check indiscriminate mining, NatConnect said.
“We, environment lovers, have been cautioning against blasting of hills, deforestation and unregulated development on the hills across the state,” Kumar said.
NatConnect also called for a study of the soil conditions across the hills with the help of the IIT/Geological Survey of India.
“Undoubtedly, the torrential rainfall contributed to the landslide. But the previous damage and loosening of the soil due to mining and deforestation and extreme heat could have added to the woes,” said Nandakumar Pawar, head of Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishtan.
Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis said due to inclement weather, rescue operations to take time
In the assembly, Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said relief operations at Irashalwadi are expected to take time due to inclement weather. “As more manpower was required, 1,000 workers along with machinery were sent to Irshalgad, through CIDCO. They have reached and are working under the supervision of NDRF. Three Bobcat machines have been arranged by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board. But bad weather is not allowing us to mobilise these machines through helicopters,” Fadnavis said.
Fadnavis said that a makeshift control room has been set up at the base of the hill on which the village is located. Contact number of this control room is 8108195554.
Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar told the upper house of the state legislature that Rs5 lakh will be given ex-gratia to the next to kin of those who lost their lives.