After 97 mm rainfall on June 24, a small portion of the 800 metre road and the steps of a few houses and drainage chambers at newly inhabited Malin village caved in. This led to panic among the villagers, who had recently shifted to this new village, which is located barely a kilometer away from the original Malin village.
The newly constructed houses were recently handed over to villagers by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis at a grand function held in Malin in Ambegaon Tehsil. The heavy rain in Malin triggered the memories of the worst ever landslide in 2014, which had claimed 151 lives.
Following the incident, on Saturday, the locals are now concerned about the quality of construction and the choice of location where the new village is located. However, the experts, who were part of the advisory committee, said that such worries were unfounded. The independent geologists cautioned that more care should have been taken while compacting the soil near retaining soil adequately. The experts now suspect that things were done in a hurried manner and proper precautions for the diversion of water needed to have been taken.
Compaction of soil not done adequately
The geologists suspect that the road or the stairs of houses getting caved in is a result of work done in a hurried manner. When Sakal Times spoke to Dr SS Thigale, Retired Professor of Geology in Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU), who specialises in the problem of landslide, particularly in Sahyadri mountain range, however, said that one thing is clear that he finds no mistake in identifying the site. He added that it is all concerned with the quality of work.
Thigale added that they have not taken due precaution such as stablisation of sloping land. He added that the filled up material such as debris should have been pressed adequately. Thigale added that due precaution needs to be taken with respect to diversion of water such that it won’t enter the settlement. He added that due precaution is also needed if trenches are cut to divert water because there are examples that land begins to subside along such trenches.
Villagers had consented the location
Professor from College of Engineering Pune (COEP) BG Birasdar, who was part of the advisory committee for the rehabilitation project, told Sakal Times, “New Malin was selected as per recommendation of GSI after conducting due search of locations.”
BG Birasdar added that the site was consented by the villagers near village Ambde after considering four to five sites.
No need of panic
Birasdar, who visited the site twice in the last week, told Sakal Times, “There is no need to panic. The houses and retaining wall are quite safe.” Birasdar said that dampness was experienced in few houses, adding that the same can be addressed during routine maintenance. He, however, mentioned that the main concern is storm water drain, adding that as 10 per cent work was not done, water could not reach the desired location and it got spread everywhere and soil, which was filled behind the retaining wall was inadequately compacted. Because of this, the soil settled. Birasdar said that after the first spell of rain, such occurrences may happen and there is no reason for the villagers to panic.
Retaining wall, and RCC dwellings safe
Yogesh Rathi, Consulting Engineer for this rehabilitation project, said there is a difference of 38 metres in the topography of the ground. He added that this difference is from 97 to 135 metres.
He maintained that the structures were set up on stable slopes and no construction has been carried out on steep slopes. He added that such steep slopes have been left as open spaces.
Speaking about the compaction of soil, he added that retaining walls are 6 to 9 meters high, for refilling such zones, small compactors were used as huge vibro compactors would have disturbed the retaining wall. He added that while filling of 6 to 9 meters, retaining wall dome settlement is expected. He insisted that no cracks were seen in the houses or amenity buildings such as Grampanchayat, Schools, Samaj mandir, Primary Health Center.
Explaining why a portion of the road caved in following the heavy downpour, Rathi explained that rainwater entering the newly inhabited settlement percolated through the road shoulder or area left in the side margins. Due to the force of rainwater, a small portion of the road got settled.
Rathi added that the villagers should remain vigilant and ensure that the waterways are not obstructed and the storm water drains are cleaned at regular intervals.
Administration swung into action
CT Naik, Executive Engineer of Public Works Department (PWD North region) said that his two engineers and corresponding staff are being posted in new Malin village. Naik said that lot of work was done by filling the slopes with loose soil. He added that the road caved in as the loose soil underneath settled.
Naik said that such changes were expected as this is the first monsoon of this new settlement. He however assured that there was nothing to worry and the houses and retaining walls are intact and correction is being done to repair the drainage chambers.