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Geospatial landslide inventory of India—an insight into occurrence and exposure on a national scale

Abstract

India ranks first in the world in terms of fatal landslides. Large vulnerable area (0.42 million km2), high population density and monsoon rainfall make India’s landslide management and mitigation task difficult. Therefore, an understanding of landslide occurrences and exposure of socio-economic parameters on a national scale is essential to prioritise landslide mitigation efforts. In this paper, a database of 45,334 landslides (polygons) in India mapped by the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) during the 1998–2018 period was compiled and catalogued in a WebGIS platform. High-resolution satellite data such as IRS PAN+LISS-III, Resourcesat LISS-IV Mx, Cartosat, WorldView, Pleiades and GeoEye were used to map landslides as small as 12 m2 to as big as 1,390,350 m2. GIS analysis using the landslide inventory revealed interesting results about control, exposure and pattern of landslide occurrences in India. The Northwest Himalayas contribute 66.5% of landslides in India, followed by the Northeast Himalayas (18.8%) and the Western Ghats (14.7%). The Greater Himalayan sequence consisting of high-grade metamorphic rocks has a considerable control (32%), and the Main Central Thrust is the major regional structure controlling (12%) landslides in India. In the Northeast Himalayas, the size of landslides and the slope gradient controlling landslide occurrence are less in comparison to the Northwest Himalayas and the Western Ghats. Landslides in the Western Ghats are triggered with a lesser amount of rainfall than the Himalayan regions. Exposure analysis using four key socio-economic parameters in the 145 hilly districts shows that Rudraprayag district is most affected by landslides in India. The understanding derived using the landslide database on a national scale will help to prioritise and strengthen landslide disaster risk reduction strategies in India.

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Acknowledgements

This paper is the outcome of the work carried out under the disaster management support (DMS) program of ISRO. We thank various partner institutes of ISRO for their contribution to the DMS program. We thank Shri Santanu Chowdhury, Director, NRSC, for his support to this work. T.R.M. was the Project Manager of ICSMD for the emergency response to landslide disaster events in India and would like to thank ICSMD and its affiliated organisations for sharing satellite images promptly for the generation of value-added products. We thank Dr. N Aparna, Group Head, NDC, NRSC and her team for providing the IRS satellite data. We also thank Shri M Arulraj and Bhuvan team for their support in the web-based cataloguing of landslides. We thank our colleagues in Geosciences Group, NRSC and few knowledge partner institutions in India who have contributed to this work. Finally, we would like to thank Dr. Shantanu Bhatawdekar, Director, EDPO; Dr. G Srinivasa Rao, Associate Director, EDPO; and Dr. K H V Durga Rao, Group Head, DMSG, NRSC, for their active support to this study.

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Correspondence to Tapas Ranjan Martha.

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Martha, T.R., Roy, P., Jain, N. et al. Geospatial landslide inventory of India—an insight into occurrence and exposure on a national scale. Landslides 18, 2125–2141 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10346-021-01645-1

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Keywords

  • Satellite data
  • Landslide catalogue
  • Disaster risk reduction
  • District rank
  • Himalayas