As Kadapa in Andhra Pradesh receives monsoon rains each year, villages nearby have been witnessing a strange phenomenon; in some isolated areas, massive sinkholes have appeared overnight.
The latest sinkhole has opened up in the ground close to the ST colony in Ippapenta village in Kadapa district, which is giving locals sleepless nights.
"After heavy rains lashed the region, the soil sank in and it kept sinking in further. We were worried about how deep it was and whether it has made its way to the village. We were confused. The officials come, take photographs, and leave, but don't tell us anything. They are not telling us about the severity of this and if we should vacate our village," says Mallam Kondaiah, a resident of the ST colony.
In 2015, the residents of Nayanoripalle were evacuated after a huge sinkhole appeared within the village, devouring a ground-level water tank and part of a school compound.
Close to four years on, residents say that the government is yet to make an alternate arrangement for water or a school. Cracks have also appeared on the houses here.
"In nature, a sinkhole is formed in areas which are limestone rich. Due to rainfall and precipitation, it dissolves the limestone (underground), producing a cavity. The ground water flow increases the cavity and if it can't sustain the overlying load, the soil falls in and produces a sinkhole," Dr Anand Pandey from the National Geophysical Research Institute in Hyderabad tells TNM.
Meanwhile, the government says that it is considering the latest sinkhole as a calamity and added that an enquiry is ongoing.
Speaking to TNM, Kadapa Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO), A Malola, says, "When people are scared, we have an obligation to quell their fears. As soon as the (enquiry) report comes, we will all sit down and speak to the Collector. We will identify why this happens and if there are areas where it may happen, satisfy the doubts of locals, and take action accordingly."
While the government can study the sinkholes and mitigate the issue, there is no real solution, at least not right now. Precaution seems to be the only option.
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