Officers of the district administration, along with the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and some local volunteers, averted a major disaster by blasting one of the two massive rocks on a mountain in Gokak that could have damaged several houses in the town if it were to slide down. Incessant rain had washed away the soil around the smaller rock which was eventually blasted.
Two rocks, estimated to weigh 210 tonnes and 110 tonnes, were perched closed to each other on Mallikarjun Gudda that houses Malik Baba Dargah on the outskirts of Gokak. One of them had slid and it was feared that houses in parts of Gokak town such as Maratha Colony and Sangameshwar Colony could face threat if it rolled down.
The NDRF team arrived in Gokak on Tuesday and worked out various options to avoid the danger of the rocks sliding down. They devised a plan to stop the rocks on their tracks by blasting one of them. A temporary road of around 2 km was created overnight for an earthmover to reach the site.
Rock blasting experts from Ilkal in Bagalkot district climbed atop the smaller rock, drilled holes into it, and inserted low-intensity explosives. It took four blasts to reduced the rock to smithereens. The rubble and smaller rocks were thrown into a 20-ft-deep pit that was dug beside the bigger rock. Members of the Satish Jarkiholi Foundation assisted the team. The operation began on Wednesday morning and blasting was completed by 5 p.m.
“NDRF personnel have told us that they will take a decision on blasting the other rock on Thursday,” Deputy Commissioner S.B. Bommanahalli said on Wednesday.
The operation became a spectacle for locals who gathered in large numbers. The police had to ask them to move away so that the operation is not disturbed.