Geo-hazard mapping in South Cotabato set

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/08 March) – A team of government geology experts will conduct anew a geo-hazard mapping in at least two towns of South Cotabato in a bid to come up with a more detailed map of areas that are considered “high risk” due to the possible occurrence of landslides, flashfloods and other related disasters.

Constancio Paye, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Region 12 director, said Tuesday they will send the agency’s geology and survey team to the municipalities of T’boli and Banga towns to assess and conduct a more detailed geo-hazard mapping of the area, especially those that were earlier hit by landslides and severe flooding.

He said the initiative aims to produce a more detailed or condensed maps with a scale of 1:10,000 covering the disaster-prone areas within the two municipalities.

“It will take off from the previous geo-hazard mapping that we conducted in these areas. This time, we will be zooming in or take a closer look on these areas so we can have a clearer view or assessment of their vulnerabilities,” Paye said.

The MGB had completed the geo-hazard mapping of Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao but he noted that the maps that it produced were not quite detailed as they were made with a scale of 1:50,000.

Region 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

Paye said they recommended the two municipalities for the detailed mapping program, which is part of a nationwide initiative of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), due to the recorded cases of disasters that affected the two areas in the past several years.

He said they were specifically concerned with the situation in T’boli town due to the presence of small-scale mining activities in the area.

T’boli, which has confirmed gold and silver deposits, hosts hundreds of small-scale mining ventures mainly at the gold rush village of Kematu.

Foreign-backed Cadan Resources Corporation is currently completing its plant and site development phase for its planned large-scale gold and silver mining project in the area.

In Banga town, which is mainly an agricultural area, Paye said the mapping will focus on the areas that were prone to heavy flooding as well as landslides during the rainy season.

Last year, dozens of families were displaced by landslides and flashfloods that hit Barangays El Nonok and Lampari in Banga town at the height of heavy rains in the area.

After completing the mapping of the two municipalities, Paye said the MGB team will hold an exit conference with local officials and other local stakeholders to properly present their findings.

He said they will also come up with some recommendations based on the results of the detailed mapping program.

“The detailed maps will help us determine the specific vulnerabilities of these areas. It will help our local disaster managers craft more specific and effective response mechanisms or programs for the identified critical areas,” Paye said.

The DENR earlier allocated some P354 million for the conduct of the detailed geo-hazard mapping in various disaster-prone areas in the country starting this year.

The agency said among the details that would be established through the three-year mapping program are parameters or features that may affect ground stability and the type of landslides that may possibly occur within the identified critical areas. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)