A top civil engineer yesterday said use of jute geotextile (JGT) alongside planned plantation of grass on the barren surface of hills can reduce the risk of landslide in the country.
Prof Abdul Jabbar Khan, of Buet's Department of Civil Engineering, said that JGT has been used successfully while constructing roads on hills, connecting remote Alikadam and Thanchi upazilas of Bandarban district in recent years.
“Locally grown grass varieties which are fast-growing with widespread and deep root system can be used for vegetation or growing bush canopy on hill surface,” he said at a seminar at the Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh (IEB) in Dhaka.
The Civil Engineering Division of IEB arranged the seminar on “Landslides: Issue, Challenges and the Way Forward” where Prof Jabbar was the keynote speaker.
Landslides have become a big concern for Bangladesh in recent years, especially in the hill districts of Rangamati, Bandarban and Khagrachhari.
Speaking as chief guest, Disaster Management and Relief Minister Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya said sustainable hill management mechanism has to be given priority before undertaking any development plans in the hill districts.
He said 166 persons died and 227 more were injured in landslides in the country in 2017. In Rangamati district alone 120 people died during landslides last year.
Till June this year, 27 people died in landslide in the country, said the minister.
Prof Jabbar, also a member of Bangladesh Public Service Commission, said as per the bio-engineering solution, JGT which is a net-like object made from jute fibre has to be laid on barren surface with wooden pegs to secure it.
Grass will grow through apertures of JGT, and gradually deep and widespread grass roots will hold top soil, he said.
“Once vegetation canopy is fully grown in six months, there will be no need of JGT,” he said, adding BJMC and Janata Jute Mills are currently producing JGT in the country.
Prof Jabbar also said vertical cut of hill slopes is a major reason behind landslide.
He recommended extensive mapping of the hills through geological survey to determine the risk, adding that contractors involved in development activities in the hilly region should be able to work during September-February season to avoid risk of landslide.
IEB President Engineer Md Abdus Sabur, among others, spoke at the event.