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June 1 @ 7:00 am - 11:30 pm


The recent Cyclone Remal caused severe landslides in northeastern India, resulting in significant casualties. This highlights the urgent need for enhanced multi-hazard disaster resilience. While early warnings for cyclones have improved, landslide prediction and prevention remain a challenge. 

What is a Landslide? 

A landslide is the movement of a mass of rock, debris, or earth down a slope. 

  • Mass Wasting: Landslides are a type of mass wasting, which involves the downward movement of soil and rock under gravity. 
  • Movement Modes: Includes five types of slope movements: falls, topples, slides, spreads, and flows. 



  • Gravity: Slope movement occurs when gravitational forces exceed the strength of the earth materials. 


  • Geology: Weak or fractured rocks and varying strengths and stiffness of different layers. 
  • Morphology: The structure of the land, such as slopes losing vegetation due to fire or drought, increasing vulnerability. 
  • Human Activities: Mining and construction can increase the risk of landslides. 

How Vulnerable is India to Landslides? 

Landslide-Prone Area 

  • Geological Survey of India: Approximately 13% of India’s landmass, around 4.2 lakh km², is prone to landslides, covering almost all hilly regions across 15 states and 4 Union Territories. 
  • Triggers: Heavy rainfall is the most common trigger, while earthquakes, though less frequent, can also cause landslides. 

High Vulnerability in Northeast 

  • Northeast Region: Accounts for 42% of India’s landslide-prone areas, particularly in Meghalaya, Mizoram, Assam, and Nagaland. 
  • Frequency: From 2015-2022, 10% of major landslides in India occurred in the Northeast, averaging 54 major landslides per year. 

Causes of Vulnerability 

  • Natural Factors: Young, weak rocks and steep slopes in the Northeastern Himalayas. 
  • Climate: Heavy monsoon rains weaken the soil, compounded by deforestation. 
  • Human Activities: Unregulated construction, infrastructure development, and certain agricultural practices increase risks. 
  • Recent Example: The collapse of a stone quarry in Aizawl, Mizoram during Cyclone Remal underscores the dangers of unregulated construction. 

Government Initiatives to Mitigate the Risk of Landslides 

National Landslide Risk Management Strategy (2019) 

  • Comprehensive Approach: Outlines measures for landslide risk reduction, addressing inadequate urban planning and lack of a comprehensive land use policy. 

Landslide Atlas of India 

  • Risk Assessment: Based on 80,000 landslides recorded between 1998 and 2022 across 147 districts in 17 states and 2 Union Territories. 

Early Warning System Development 

  • Rainfall Data: Uses rainfall data and real-time monitoring to predict potential landslides. 
  • Pilot Programs: Implemented in Nagaland and Sikkim, with early warning systems being installed by CBRI and IIT Roorkee in Sikkim, Uttarakhand, and Kerala. 

Major Challenges in Mitigating Landslide Risks in India 

Limited Understanding of Landslide Prone Areas 

  • Geological Mapping: Lack of detailed geological mapping and risk assessments hinders effective mitigation. 

Unsustainable Land-Use Practices 

  • Deforestation and Unplanned Development: Increase landslide risks due to poor construction practices and development on slopes. 

Resource Constraints 

  • Costly Measures: Implementing robust measures like retaining walls, drainage systems, and slope stabilization is expensive. 
  • Lack of Sensors: India needs a comprehensive network of sensors (rain gauges, tiltmeters) to detect early warning signs. 

Public Awareness and Preparedness 

  • Community Awareness: Residents in landslide-prone areas are often unaware of risks and how to prepare for them. 

Way Forward 

Focus on Ecologically Sensitive Zones (ESZs) 

  • Gadgil and Kasturirangan Committees: Recommend classifying significant portions of the Western Ghats as ESZs to restrict destabilizing activities like mining and large infrastructure projects. 

Emphasis on Sustainable Land-Use Practices 

  • Agroforestry and Traditional Farming: Promote these practices to minimize soil erosion and maintain slope stability. 

Community Involvement 

  • Local Participation: Involving local communities in risk assessment, mitigation efforts, and disaster preparedness is crucial. 

Slope Stabilization using Soil Nailing and Hydroseeding 

  • Tamil Nadu Example: The state highways department in the Nilgiris is using soil nailing and hydroseeding for slope stabilization. Soil nailing involves inserting reinforcing elements into the soil, and hydroseeding promotes plant growth to hold topsoil together and prevent erosion. 


To effectively mitigate the impact of landslides, India must prioritize multi-hazard disaster preparedness and sustainable development. Implementing recommendations from the Gadgil and Kasturirangan committees, enhancing public awareness, and involving local communities are essential steps towards building resilience. By adopting these measures, India can protect lives and infrastructure from the devastating effects of landslides. 

Mains question: 

  1. Discuss the vulnerabilities and mitigation strategies for landslides in India, with a focus on recent events like Cyclone Remal. (150 WORDS)


June 1
7:00 am - 11:30 pm
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