Geoscientist: No need relocation of Los Iros farmers

Tuesday, January 28, 2020 - 17:30

Farm­ers af­fect­ed by the emer­gence of six new vol­ca­noes in the Los Iros dis­trict should cul­ti­vate drought-tol­er­ant crops in­stead of tra­di­tion­al short crops, says se­nior geo­sci­en­tist, Xavier Moo­nan.

Speak­ing to Guardian Me­dia, Moo­nan said the soil near the vol­ca­noes was no longer hold­ing wa­ter as it once did.


Since the emer­gence of new fault lines fol­low­ing the Au­gust 21 earth­quake, Moo­nan said the soil mois­ture con­tent had changed and the area was now ex­pe­ri­enc­ing drought-like con­di­tions which were not con­ducive to plant­i­ng tra­di­tion­al crops.

Asked whether the farm­ers from the area should be re­lo­cat­ed, Moo­nan said on­ly those farm­ers whose lands were in the im­me­di­ate vicin­i­ty of the fault lines, should do so.

“Ap­prox­i­mate­ly 107 acres of farm­land were af­fect­ed by the earth­quake in 2018. The area was heav­i­ly frac­tured and as such one and a half years lat­er many of the frac­tures still per­sist, and this has sig­nif­i­cant­ly af­fect­ed the drainage and wa­ter re­ten­tion in the area,” Moo­nan said.

He added, “The new mud vol­ca­noes oc­cur an area just un­der one acre along the main sur­face rup­ture or fault from the earth­quake.”

Moo­nan said res­i­dents were not in any dan­ger and there was no need to evac­u­ate house­hold­ers.

Con­tact­ed for com­ment, Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Clarence Ramb­harat said giv­en the na­ture of the mat­ter, the min­istry’s En­gi­neer­ing Di­vi­sion was in­ves­ti­gat­ing the im­pact of the new vol­ca­noes on the farm­lands.

“The di­rec­tor of En­gi­neer­ing is Ms Ann Marie Dar­d­aine,” Ramb­harat said, adding that he was yet to re­ceive sci­en­tif­ic re­ports about the vol­canic de­vel­op­ments.

Told that 107 acres of land were fault­ed af­ter the quake, Ramb­harat said, “I have not seen a geo­sci­en­tist’s re­port so can­not com­ment.”

Ramb­harat added, “As I have said be­fore any bona fide oc­cu­pant of af­fect­ed land would be con­sid­ered for re­lo­ca­tion once there is an agree­ment to de­sist from fur­ther use of the land.”

He shied away from say­ing whether the site had great po­ten­tial for tourism, ex­plain­ing, “I can­not of­fer an opin­ion on that. If the geo­sci­en­tist’s re­port points to is­sues with the site, then any al­ter­na­tive use will be con­di­tion­al on the site be­ing suit­able for that pur­pose.”

As to what plans were in place for the area, Ramb­harat said, “I know we would like to re­store the forestry on the ridge over­look­ing the sea as part of the long term sta­bil­i­sa­tion of the site. We have not done so yet be­cause of the tech­ni­cal stud­ies be­ing un­der­tak­en by the en­gi­neer­ing pro­fes­sion­als out­side the Min­istry.”

Last Mon­day, pres­i­dent of the Los Iros Hillview Farm­ers As­so­ci­a­tion Rishi Ram­raj, called on the Gov­ern­ment to re­lo­cate farm­ers and to de­vel­op Los Iros as an agri-tourist site.

He said the six vol­ca­noes cropped up with­in a week and has been ooz­ing a steady mud­flow.