Prevention is better than cure and only that much water should be allowed to go into earth in hills which it can be endured
Brig. K.G. Behl (Retd.) Former Dy. Surveyor General
Actually in hilly areas no water should be allowed to stagnate in any area but water should flow down the streams to rivers. It has been observed, that wherever water gets collected in hills, it causes, some or the other problems which becomes difficult to control later.
It is normally believed that earth soaks all the water which goes inside it after use But it is not so as earth has only limited capacity to absorb water and beyond it trickles down drop by drop and accumulates in artificial tank which when gets filled tries to force its way out through some crevices found around.
Earlier majority of water was sucked by roots of the trees but since the trees have been cut for the constructions of work, this water trickles down as drops and gets collected in an artificial tank which gets formed there. When it gets filled it tries to flow out but finding no exit beneath it forces its way due to vacuum got created there and forces its way out of the crevices or some weak areas due to pressure. This water actually needs to be taken out through some drains or pipes, to make that flow to some drains to connecting streams / rivers. Water cannot be kept stagnant for long as it finds its way out one way or other in due course and creates danger of the type seen in Joshimath. Even now scientists should gauge the size of water accumulated inside and take measures to bring it out before it cause further damages.
Damages being reported from different hill stations need to be checked in the light of the above and areas detected where water detected has to be taken out. Efforts should be made to ensure that no further water goes into earth but is made to flow to stream / rivers through drains for pipes. Efforts should be made to ensure that even rain water flows down the drains and is not allowed to be collected at places to prevent it from going into the earth.
It is well known that water must flow and should not be allowed to become stagnant at any place. Some water in its efforts to flow tries to break its boundaries and comes out with force and in the process causing damages as reported at various hill stations. Since there is no proper drainage or sanitary facility to take away effluent after human use, the effluent along with the water, natural or otherwise is going into the earth. Since water needs some outlets and where outlets are not available, due to creation of vacuum there tries to find its way at either crevices or other weaker places causing damage of the type reported. This water needs to be taken out either through pipes or drains into streams to flow out before it further damages. Better it is that such water should be put through some pipes or drains with stream to flow.
Such damages are as there is no sewer systems and needs to be studied and action taken as required.
Henceforth all the new colonies being setup in hilly stations should not be allowed unless they have proper drainage and sanitary facilities so that water flows out along drains etc. to streams / nalas which flows to bigger rivers.