GIS - October 10, 2012: Landslide disasters may become an acute problem in the long run if a countermeasure plan is not established in time. In this regard, the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, National Development Unit, Land Transport & Shipping is conducting a Project on Landslide Management with technical assistance from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
A seminar to this effect was held today at the Swami Vivekananda International Convention Centre, Pailles. The objective is to give better understanding of the subject and disseminate relevant information about the project, which aims at mitigating landslide disasters in Mauritius. Another objective is to establish a landslide monitoring system by developing a countermeasure plan, to implement a feasibility study and pilot project in high risk areas, and to develop the capacity of government agencies involved in landslide management.
In his address at the opening ceremony the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure (MPI), Mr V.Luchmeeparsad, underlined the importance of the technical transfer seminar, and praised Japanese team for their expertise and assistance to address the problem of landslide in Mauritius.
In his presentation the Chief Adviser of the JICA Expert Team, Mr. Ichikawa, spoke about the formulation of a landslide management plan to establish a landslide monitoring system. He cited examples of landslide disasters that have hit Japan, which he says is “a disaster-prone country”. Mother Nature is often fickle and it is better that a country is equipped with adequate preparedness to face disasters and mitigate their impact, he said.
Thirty-seven disaster sites with potential landslide problems have been identified in Mauritius. Some steep regions have been suspected to have a potential risk of developing the critical situation which may trigger earth movement or even failure. Up to now, no research or investigation whether from hydrological or structural point of view has been done in these suspected areas.
Moreover, changes in built-up configuration and distribution have led to more areas becoming prone to landslides. The responsibility for monitoring landslide prone areas is now under the responsibility of the Civil Engineering section of the MPI. Case studies for the project have involved extensive assessment of Chitrakoot at Vallée-des-Prêtres and Quatre-Soeurs in Grand-Port. Other regions within in the landslide management project include specific parts of Crève-Coeur, Congomah, Les Marianes, Vallée-Pitot, Le Pouce Street, Camp Chapelon, Sorèze, Chamarel, Baie-du-Cap, Bambous-Virieux, Trou-aux-Cerfs, Candos Hill, Coromandel.
The landslide management project will consist of data collection, including the collection of topographic map, geological data, meteorological data, aerial photos, observation of geological setting, of crack, scarp, protrusion, uplift and subsidence, as well as geophysical exploration involving drilling and monitoring. Countermeasures involve the construction of countermeasures infrastructural works.
Landslides are defined as the mass movement of rock, debris or earth down a slope and have come to include a broad range of motions whereby falling, sliding and flowing under the influence of gravity dislodges earth material. The main trigger of landslides is generally ground water, especially in situations whereby heavy rains bring an uprising of ground water levels. They often take place in conjunction with earthquakes, floods and volcanoes. The formation of river blocks can cause havoc to the settlements downstream on its bursting.
Despite the increasing level of understanding of landslide phenomenon and the recent scientific and technological developments in landslide forecasting, prevention and mitigation, humans continue to be affected by landslide disasters.
As global trends of climate change, environmental destruction and population explosion are likely to further increase the occurrence of landslide disasters, there is a pressing need to develop opportunities for the exchange among researchers, engineers and government personnel on the nature of landslides and techniques of mitigation.