2009 Disastrous landslides in Nilgiris

Dr.G.P.Ganapathy, Centre for Disaster Mitigation and Management, VIT University, Vellore


Landslide hazard is one of the most significant hazards that affect different parts of India every year during the rainy season and annual recurrence. There is a variation in the degree of landslide incidences in various hill ranges. Increase in population and rapid urbanization has led to expansion of construction activities in hilly terrains and has catapulted frequency of landslides to dramatic proportions in recent decades. The Nilgiris district in the Western Ghats of India has a long history of disastrous landslide events. In the recent times casualties and damage due to landslides have increased in the Nilgiri Hills. Generally October to December is the season for landslide in the Nilgiris. Most of these landslides are triggered by the heavy intense rainfall in the district. About 1150 small, medium and bigger size landslides were reported within five days from 10 to 15 November, 2009, and taken away about 80 human lives, also the vast damage reported on houses, roads and railway lines. Most of the slides occurred over the past landslide scars.

Individuals with expertise/responsibilities in the following areas have helped create the case study:
District Collector, Tahsildar, Village Officers, Local NGO's, Geotechnical Cell, Geological Survey of India, Disaster Management Consultant.

Key teaching points:
  • understanding the hazard , Damage survey
  • calculating the element at Risk
  • risk Evaluation

How this example is used in the classroom:
Preparation of Landslide Hazard Zonation is part of syllabus, I link the real world example with this.
how to prepare landslide hazard maps, how to validate the hazard maps, how to calculate element at risk. Then the field examples will be correlated with the class examples.


BMTPC (2003), Landslide Hazard Zonation Atlas of India, Published by Building Materials and technology Promotion Council, Government of India and Anna University, Chennai , p.125.

8. Ganapathy G.P, Mahendran K, and Sekar S.K, (2010), Need and urgency of Landslide Risk Planning for Nilgiri district, Tamil Nadu State, India, International Journal of Geomatics and Geosciences, Vol.1, Number 1. 2010, pp29-40.

Supporting Files

Landslide Risk Management (Acrobat (PDF) 8.8MB Apr11 14)