This July, the residents of two hamlets in Maharashtra’s Raigad district evacuated to a nearby school after the administration raised an alert, warning them of heavy rainfall and impending landslides. Fortunately, there was no landslide. But the people of Bhisewadi, Sutarwadi, and over 100 villages in Raigad continue to live in mortal fear of one.
Since 2021, two landslides in the district have buried entire villages, with the survivors now living in shipping containers, awaiting proper rehabilitation.
Raigad lies in the Western Ghats, the hilly region that has become one of the most landslide-prone in India. Relentless quarrying and construction work has made the hills fragile.
Tabassum Barnagarwala travelled to the district to meet people living in the shadow of crumbling hills, as well as the officials responsible for protecting them. The government plans to relocate vulnerable villages, but faces the challenge of how to accurately identify them.
“In cities, we often complain about waterlogged roads in the monsoon,” Tabassum said. "In the hills of Raigad, I discovered the problems are much worse: several villages are entirely cut off from the mainland due to heavy rains, and people not only struggle with lack of access, but also live with dread.”
In landslide-prone villages, “the government needs to prioritise training people about early warning signals,” she noted. “Preparing them to detect warning signs can help save lives.”
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