Indian media: Deforestation behind deadly Pune landslide

Rain is hampering efforts to search for scores of people presumed trapped under the mud and debris Rain is hampering efforts to search for scores of people presumed trapped under the mud and debris

Environmentalists feel that deforestation may have triggered Wednesday's landslide in western India that killed at least 30 people and left up to 200 trapped, papers report.

Teams of emergency workers have so far rescued eight people in Malin village, near the city of Pune in Maharashtra state, where the disaster happened.

Environmentalist Satish Thigale tells The Times of India that "a large-scale deforestation had made the place vulnerable".

Mr Thigale, who is the former head of the geology department at Pune University, adds that "the root cause of the landslide appears to be levelling of land on the hill for cultivation and uprooting of trees".

"Villages close to Malin must be surveyed and if they show landslide signs, villagers must be relocated," he says.

Environmental activist Sumaira Abdulali blames the landslide on "stone quarrying".

"Parts of the Himalayas are rocky and have nothing to hold the soil. These areas are prone to landslides. Here [in Mailin], we are creating the condition by cutting trees. Stone quarrying results in formations that are unstable and could quicken landslides," she adds.

D Stalin, another environmentalist, also blames the disaster on "mindless deforestation aimed at excavation and construction".

Geologists also warn that more landslides may happen in the next few days as heavy rains continue to lash the area, another report in The Times of India says.

"The Geological Survey of India, Nagpur region, has sent a team to survey the area. The survey must identify cracks in hills, tilting of trees and electric poles. Wherever such signs are seen, villagers must be relocated to safer places," the paper adds.

Health concerns

And finally, a study has found residues of antibiotics in 40% of chicken samples tested in Delhi, the NDTV website reports

The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) lab conducted the study to check the quality of chicken supplied to people in the national capital.

"Large-scale unregulated use of antibiotics in the poultry industry could be contributing to Indians developing resistance to antibiotics and falling prey to a host of otherwise curable ailments," the study says.

Sunita Narain, director general of the CSE, says it's "alarming that the poultry industry, which is largely unregulated, is using regular doses of antibiotics as a growth-feed to ensure the chickens quickly gain weight and size".

There are also concerns over antibiotic-laden chicken further accelerating the "emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which are then transmitted to humans", the report adds.

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