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During monsoon Kutupalong Refugee Camp at risk of landslide

Lastnewsbd, 3rd June, Dhaka:  A recent study shows that 49.66% (1466.58 acres) area is less vulnerable to landslide, 42.75% (1262.78 acres) area is moderately vulnerable whereas 7.58% (224.00 acres) area is highly vulnerable to landslide which coincides with 9 to 18 degree slope. The research titled “Investigation of Landslides over Hill Tracts area: A Case Study of Palong Khali in Cox’s Bazar District” was done by Professor Towhida Rashid, chairperson of the Department of Meteorology, Dhaka University, Dewan Abdul Quadir, former chief scientific officer and meteorological expert, SPARSO, and Md Nazmul Ahsan, former senior research officer (SRO) and former research officer, SMRC. The lives of Rohingyas living at Kutupalong Refugee Camp in Palong Khali union of Cox’s Bazar are vulnerable as the camp is at risk of landslide during monsoon following destruction of hills.

Professor Towhida Rashid said: “Initially, contour height and slope using DEM and settlement shades (counted from aerial photographs) of the area have been used as index value to investigate the vulnerability to landslide in the study area.” “The index value of each category was summed up to categorize the vulnerability and produce vulnerability map.  Regarding slope of the hill, the study found that the area has an interval of slope angles ranging from 3 to 18 degrees.” Comparison of plants coverage and change of the study area showed drastic decrease of the plants coverage between the years of 2015 and 2018 which made the area more vulnerable to landslide, thereby increasing the risk of the lives of the people residing in the area, the study said. Towhida Rashid said that a natural slope was created due to deforestation. “Because of this, a small quarter of rainfall creates soil erosion.” “The soil of the area has turned lose. Because of this, a small wind creates sand storm in the area,” she said, adding that if erosion happens in high hill then it will fall to the bottom. “Due to active monsoon, they fear a risk of landslide in the area and urged the authorities concerned to take advance measures to reduce the vulnerability,” she said. “The government should cover the risky hill with geo-textile fabric, rebuild the risky structure and risky habitat and create awareness among the inhabitants,” Towhida Rashid said.

To investigate landslide conditions, various factors such as rainfall, soil compactness, hill slope, contour height, vegetation coverage change were examined. Nineteen cases of landslides were brought into consideration for the present study done in Cox’s Bazar district which is one of the districts vulnerable to landslide. Landslide catalog was prepared from various secondary sources around Chittagong Hill Tracts. The study found that most of landslides occurred over the southeast hilly regions of the country are triggered by rainfall during the onset period of southwest summer monsoon season, but other land specific phenomena appears to be important precondition for occurrence of landslide. Time series (1988-2018) of daily rainfalls of Cox’s Bazar are analysed to identify the triggering mechanisms of landslides. The study revealed that most of the cases of landslides are triggered by heavy to very heavy rainfalls during the onset period of southwest summer monsoon season. The study also found that the landslides occurred in 3rd to 5th day of consecutive heavy to very heavy rainfalls. The initial rainfall of around 100-150 mm in 1-2 days saturates the soil and soil becomes in antecedent moisture condition which triggers the landslides over Cox’s Bazar region. Rainfalls higher than 200 mm in a day also found to trigger landslides. Regarding threshold value that triggers landslide, it is seen that the rainfall of 100 mm triggers the landslides if the soil is already wet by the previous months’ rainfalls.


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