Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham was awarded the ‘World Centre of Excellence on Landslide Disaster Reduction’ by the International Program on Landslides (IPL) at the fourth World Landslide Forum, which was held at Ljubljana, Slovenia from 29th May-2nd June, 2017. This title will be held by the institution till 2020.
The institution successfully deployed the world’s first wireless sensor network system for detection and early warning of landslides in Munnar, Kerala. Though there are 20 centers around the world, there is no such center in India. At the request of the Indian Government, a similar technology was deployed at Sikkim, Northeast Himalayas.
Dr. Maneesha V. Ramesh, who leads the landslide research, is the Director & Professor at Amrita Center for Wireless Networks and Applications (AmritaWNA) and Dean for Amrita Center for International Programs, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham. She said that Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, being the World Centre of Excellence, would help to increase capabilities within India and also allow collaboration with the United Nations and other globally renowned research centers. A comprehensive framework, including landslide hazard mapping, remote sensing, low-cost sensing, big-data analytics, decision models, development of low-cost MEMS sensors and a big data analytics platform for disaster risk reduction has been planned by the institution.
The first landslide laboratory in India was set up in 2008 by Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham. This serves as a test bed for development and validation of systems deployed in landslide prone areas. It can create small landslides under controlled conditions and act as a feedback system for field deployment. The Center has also initiated a landslide research project with the British Geological Society and UK Met Office called the “Landslip”. This project was initiated to develop regional thresholds for landslide warning from the real-time data of Amrita’s field deployment in the Himalayas and the Western Ghats. It also includes an early warning system to reduce landslide risk.
The major landslide prone areas of India include the Western Ghats and Konkan Hills (Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra); Eastern Ghats (Araku region in Andhra Pradesh); North East Himalayas (Darjeeling and Sikkim) and North West Himalayas (Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir). More than 12 per cent of India’s land area is at risk because of landslides.
Landslide is considered the third most deadly natural disaster on Earth. 400 billion dollars are being spent every year for landslide disaster management. On 12 June, 2017, a landslide struck Bangladesh and more than 150 people were killed. This, according to Dr. Maneesha, showed the threat that can be caused by landslides.