Views & Reviews
Rockslides Disaster in NH-29 Purely Manmade
For the last several years we have been witnessing and experiencing traffic snarls while travelling between Kohima and Dimapur due to the earth cutting of the four lane road construction of NH-29. Come rain, it is all mud slush making the road surface slippery and inhospitable as the whole freshly cut soil is sprawled all over the black topped road surface often leading to loaded vehicle getting stuck up and causing road block. Come sunshine, the mud slush when dry turns into enormous dust and produces so much dust storm obstructing your whole outside vision. Alas! finally, the road is coming to some shape as in quite a few locations the median lane dividers are now prominently put up and portion of the dual carriage way is visible.
About two years now, we have been witnessing constant road blockage and diversion due to the hill cutting involving heavy blasting of the rocky outcrop along the PaklaPahar road stretch. On several occasions the whole uphill rock outcrop have crashed down choking the whole road surface, the worst being on 2nd February 2021 when several vehicles were also crushed and buried under the rubble. The crashing down of the rock slides took place about 15/20 minutes ahead of my reaching the spot as I had started my journey late by about 20 minutes of my scheduled departure time from home. On reaching near the spot of the incident, I had to reverse and take the other diversion road in order to catch my flight timing to Delhi.
Till about 25/30 years back we have not known the modern earth cutting machineries but the only earth cutting machinery available was the bulldozer. In our youthful days it was the human labour that was the main work force involved in earth cutting of the road construction using jumper and spade with locally made earth mover contraption. It is common knowledge even to a simple villager that earth cutting in road construction starts from the top and dressing down to the bottom of the road face level. We have also done rock blasting but we used to do the blasting of the rock from the top, down to the bottom. But very unfortunately, at the NH-29 the construction Engineers are blasting the rock from the bottom base to scoop out the hill side to get the desired width of the road. If you are travelling on this road driving a vehicle, just pull off to the road shoulder and inspect the rock blasting site where you will witness half scooped out rock left behind in the outcrop rocks all cracked and jagged. By all common sense the heavy blasting has caused cracks and fissures all along the plane of the rock strata and has already upset the stability of the strata of the rock bed and soil formation thereby weakening the naturally balanced stability. During the summer rainfall surface run of water will percolate into the fissures which shall solidify during the cold winter nights. Water that percolated into the fissures when solidify will increase in volume and shall act as good wedge inside the fissure which will automatically expand the rock fissures. Repeated such expansion over the year will create pressure on the surrounding rock mass ultimately triggering rock slides which shall continue to happen even long after the present road construction works are over as the whole stretch of the uphill outcrop is holding hundreds of fissures and cracks as seen in the photo.
It is fact that semi tunnel type of parallel scooping of the hill side is done in many road construction projects where the rock formation is primary igneous volcanic rock type forming into a solid mass of rock but such parallel scooping in stratified sedimentary rock formations are not normally done due to impending possibilities of crushing down of the entire hill top owing to scooping at the bottom base. It is to everyone’s knowledge that Patkai range is a young mountain chain and the rocks therein are all sedimentary rock which is soft and unstable. Knowing fully well about this geological aspect and probable collateral damages to occur, it is criminal offence and negligence on the part of the Construction Company, the State Quality Control Board and the National Highway Authority to allow such blasting of parallel scooping periling the life and property of the stake holder and also damaging environment of the fragile ecosystem. The three nodal agencies should be individually or severally held responsible for any loss of life and damage of property so caused due to rock slides in and around the road section where blasting and parallel scooping have been implemented in the course of the cutting of the road. The rock slides occurring where blasting were involved is therefore not natural disaster but purely manmade disaster that could have been avoided had the nodal agencies been prudent, sensitive and sensible on the future implications and the impending adverse effects.
T. Meren Paul
113, Lower PR Hill, Kohima