PANIC spreads among the residents of rehabilitated Malin village, as cracks appeared on the streets after the region saw its first heavy rain Saturday night and Sunday morning. Soil masses loosened, leading to wide cracks in the newly-constructed ‘earthquake-resistant’ houses at the village. It may be recalled that on July 30, 2014, a major landslide had swallowed several houses in the village, claiming 151 lives. The rehabilitated village is located over two kilometres from the old one.
As many as 68 houses, which the district administration claimed were ‘resistant to natural calamities, including landslide and earthquakes’, were handed over to the survivors of the Malin tragedy in the first week of April this year. The district administration, meanwhile, said it had anticipated such incidents due to the nature of soil and heavy rainfall in the area. “While the situation is being closely monitored, immediate corrective measures have been taken,” said District Collector Saurabh Rao on Sunday. Ganesh Zanjare, a Malin tragedy survivor living in the rehabilitated village, told Newsline, “When I got up early in the morning, I saw that the soil below the stairs, leading to the bathroom, had moved away. It has become very dangerous to climb those stairs. While some roads developed cracks, which showed loosening of the soil, other patches caved in. It was really scary.”
Another resident Laxman Tupe said, “The loosening of the soil had led to widening of the joints of various houses and schools. There is a wide crack in the soil layer near the wall of anganwadi. The sidewall, it appears, will collapse anytime. We were told that these houses are resistant to earthquakes but this happened after the first major rain of the season. There are many more to come.” “This hilly area particularly receives heavy rainfall. We are worried whether these houses will be able to sustain the coming days of the rainy season. We have gone through one tragedy and even a thought of a calamity scares us. We are thinking whether it was a mistake to stay back here and was leaving the village a better option,” he added.
“Yes, cracks have appeared on the roads and loosening of the soil has taken place at some spots. But we had anticipated this and were prepared for it. The area received 97 mm of rainfall last night, which is heavy. Whenever there is construction in a hilly region with this kind of soil, the layers settle down after the first rain,” said the district collector. Rao added: “Our team of 20 technical officers, local sub-divisional magistrate, executive engineers from the public works and water supply department, along with technical experts from the contractor’s office, are already at the village. When the houses were handed over in April, we had said that our duty towards rehabilitation was not over and persistent monitoring was required. We have also included a ‘defect-liability’ clause in the tender.”
“The current situation is being closely monitored and immediate corrective measures are being taken. If long term corrective measures are required, they will also be taken care of at an appropriate time. There is no reason to panic,” he said. The rehabilitated village has a primary school, a community hall, a gram panchayat office, bus stop, primary health centre, among total 18 amenities. The rehabilitation work was carried out by the district administration, with funding from the state government and private bodies. A total of Rs 27 crore was spent on the rehabilitation. Dilip Valse Patil, a senior NCP leader and former speaker who represents the area, was asked about the condition of the houses in Malin during a press conference in the city. He said: “These houses have been built using all latest technologies and most of the structures are of RCC. Besides, they are also earthquake resistant, but we need to study the situation and learn what caused the cracks.”
(With inputs from ANJALI MARAR)