SaveTheHills(STH) is a group of concerned citizens who are raising awareness about landslides in Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya.
Many landslides are the direct or indirect result of human interference and preventable if sufficient care is taken.
As such, unless we begin a comprehensive and sustained program towards landslide management, prevention and mitigation, the consequences of ignoring years of human callousness will, in the future be devastating.
As per STH records the last day it rained in this region (discounting N Sikkim) was on 13Oct2016, after which this whole area is in the grip of drought like conditions - leading to forest fires, water shortage and dust haze covering the area.
After almost 5 months of drought, a western disturbance passing thru this area gave welcome showers :-
a. 10Mar2017- 45mm (in Kalimpong)
b. 11Mar2017 - 7mm (in Kalimpong)
The reason for the forest fires becomes amply clear when we see the above rainfall map from IMD. Like much of the country, the Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya is running almost 89% deficient in rainfall and the forests are full of tinder dry foliage.
Event 1 : Mountain and the City at India International Center (Delhi, 09/10Feb2017)
You can read more about the seminar here Event 2 : IMI's 'Meet of the Mountain States (MoMS IV) at WWF (Delhi, 10/11Feb2017)
Brief writeup on Event 2
Edition of Meet of the Mountain States held in New Delhi
10 February 2017, New Delhi : The fifth
edition of the Meet of the Mountain States organized by the Integrated Mountain
Initiative was held today at WWF India Secretariat in New Delhi. The Meet
deliberated on subjects of water security, skill development and disaster risk
reduction in the mountains. The Meet was inaugurated by Hon’ble Minister of
State for Home Affairs, Shri Kiren Rijiju. Members of Parliament, Dr. Thokchom
Meinya (Manipur), Shri Vincent Pala (Meghalaya), Shri Jitendra Chaudhury
(Tripura), Shri. P.D. Rai (Sikkim) and former Member of Parliament Shri Tarun
Vijay were also in attendance.
The Integrated Mountain Initiative (IMI) is a
civil society organisation formed in 2011, aimed at redefining the architecture
of sustainable development across the 12 mountain states in the Indian
Himalayan Region, comprising10 states
of Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland,
Tripura, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmirand the hill districts of West Bengal and
Assam. It is a collective initiative for recognizing the value of mountain
regions and enabling people to realise its potential by integrating the
knowledge and experiences of multiple stakeholders. IMI operationalizes this
platform through its annual Sustainable Development Summits (SMDS) and Meet of
Mountain States (MoMS) by engaging different stakeholders to come together and
engage in informed debates on themes relevant to the mountain regions.
Shri Rijiju released the proceedings of
Sustainable Mountain Development Summit V held in September 2016 in Leh.
Shri Rijiju stressed on the need to work in
convergence to ensure sustainable development in the mountain regions of India.
He also highlighted the dilemmas of livelihoods in the development context and
environmental consequences of development facing the mountain cities which has
led to severe damage in valleys of Kullu and Manali and hill cities of
Mussoorie, Nainital amongst others.
As a part of the Meet, a legislators’
dialogue was also held. All Members of Parliament insisted on the need to focus
on research in mountain subjects such as glaciology, hydrology, renewable
energy, human-wildlife conflict and biodiversity.
Shri P.D. Rai also shared the path followed
by Sikkim towards sustainable development. He also mentioned that the state is
moving to build a legislation to mainstream the subject in all departments and
amongst the citizens.
The Meet was convened by Shri Alemtemshi
Jamir, President of IMI and former Chief Secretary of Nagaland. Several eminent
leaders of the development sector from organisations such as FAO (UN), NECTAR,
UNDP, NSDC, ICIMOD, SDC, WWF and senior officials from ministries and
government departments were in attendance. There was rich sharing of ideas by
the officials and the development agencies with respect to building
collaborative action plan for mountain. They emphasized the need for stronger
mountain partnerships and integration of sustainable development goals into
mountain development. Skill development emerged as one of the areas where a lot
can be done.
Dr Divya Nambiar from Ministry of Skill
Development and Entrepreneurship spoke about theneed to prepare a ‘Sustainable
Skill Development Plan for Mountain States’. It was pointed out that skill
building needs to factor in the socio-cultural and geographical features of
mountains and focus on self-employment and entrepreneurship. Therefore a Sustainable
Skill Development Plan for Mountain States will come up with innovative new
ideas to scale up skill training initiatives in the region in a manner that is
responsive to local requirements and at the same time sustainable, over time.
Importantly, it must also align with theaspirations of young citizens in the
Mr Shyam Khadka, Country Representative, FAO
pointed out that Information on the mountain systems is very limited and hence
establishingMountain Partnership could help generate this knowledge base which
is limited tothe mountain communities at the moment. He also highlighted the
need to fill knowledge gaps and community based solutions to problems in the
mountain states, and that IMI must work on this aspect.
Mr Ravi Singh, CEO, WWF India also emphasized
that to find solutions to the problems, communities must be integrated within
the systems aimed at finding solutions and that their voices must be integrated
into policymaking processes.
Dr Sanjiv Nair, NECTAR, pointed out that Disaster
risk reduction measures need to be community based and managed with micro
insurance at community level
Mr Brij Mohan Rathore, Country Focal Person,
ICIMOD spoke about creation of value chains for sustainable employment
opportunities and entrepreneurship through network of entrepreneursin mountain
states and trans boundary landscape programmes.
The need to focus on sustainable mountain
cities and climate change was also a recurrent theme. IMI announced that the
next Sustainable Mountain Development Summit which will be held in Sep, 2017 in
Aizawl, Mizoram will take up these issues for further deliberation.
First IMI Members’ Conclave was held on 11
February following the Meet of the Mountain States.
Members’ Conclave was a powerful congregation
of individuals and institutions who are members of the State Forums or Chapters.
It included deliberations of issues raised by members from different states,
presentations by the state chapters where they highlighted the status of and
the activities being carried out by the chapters.IMI’s ongoing projects were discussed with
all the members and strategy for the coming years was also discussed.
Sustainable Mountain Development Summit VI to
be held in Aizawl, Mizoram was discussed with all the members. Dr. Lalbiak Ngente presented the concept of SMDS VI on behalf
of Mizoram Sustainable Development Forum. All members made suggestions and
committed to the organisation of the Summit.
In the bottom slide (with Colby College) STH President is 1 and Prof Roy 2.
An excerpt from the Telegraph on Project 'Landslip' is reproduced below :- "Darjeeling, Jan. 19: An international science
consortium has picked Darjeeling in north Bengal and the Nilgiris in
south India to test a new mechanism for landslide risk reduction through
better assessment, early warning systems, and improved community
Scientists from India, Italy, and the UK plan to combine terrain
geology with weather data to improve their understanding of landslide
dynamics and use that information for risk assessment and alert local
communities to potential hazard zones.
Tracts of the Darjeeling hills are highly vulnerable to landslides
that have killed many people over the years. In July 2015, more than 40
people died or went missing in landslides across the hills. Some areas
of eastern Sikkim will also be included in the project.
The scientists caution that their four-year project, funded by the
UK's Natural Environment Research Council, the Department for
International Development, through the Science for Humanitarian
Emergencies and Resilience programme, does not seek to predict
"First and foremost, we are not predicting landslides. What we are
doing is looking at and collecting information on landslide hazards,"
said Helen Reeves, the director of science for engineering geology with
the British Geological Survey.
The Geological Survey of India, a major partner in the project, will
provide the landslide data available for the area since 1899.
"One of the reasons for choosing this area is that data availability,
landslide susceptibility, and varied terrain conditions," said Saibal
Ghosh, the director of GSI. "Tea gardens here, too, have maintained
rainfall data for decades and it will also be useful."
Bruce Malamud, professor of natural and environmental hazards at
King's College, London, said: "The project will look at a combination of
things such as elevation, geology, and landslide susceptibility. We are
basically saying there could be an elevated chance here, and a reduced
The scientists plan to generate early warning systems to disseminate
potential hazard information among local communities. The Italian
National Research Council has already developed a forecasting system
that regularly alerts local governments.
The India project will also seek to involve district administrations
to reach out to communities, although the medium of communication is yet
to be determined. "We will look for what best suits the local
communities," said Malamud. "Maybe, we could work out a system that
could use text messages, social (media), smartphones, radio, or other
Scientists from India's Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham University, the UK
Met Office, Newcastle University, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche,
Italy, among other institutions are also collaborating on the project.
Praful Rao of Save the Hills, an NGO based in Kalimpong which is
working on natural disasters, said: "The very fact that an international
consortium is working on landslides in the region is a major
development. This would lead to a better understanding and preparedness
for risk reduction."
The project also plans to invite experts from Afghanistan to share experiences with regard to landslides." Praful Rao,
Cyclone 'NADA' has formed in the Bay of Bengal and is expected to make landfall in Tamil Nadu in the early hours of the morning on 02Dec2016. Thus far in 2016, we have had 3 Cyclones forming in the Bay of Bengal - Roanu, Kyant and now Cyclone NADA
Subsequent to the first meeting called by NDMA for the Formulation of a National Strategy on Landslide Risk Management, Component 'V' which is responsible for preparation of Mountain Zone Regulations and Policies met for two days in Kalimpong.
Being a member of this Component,I am extremely happy that the 6 member team could visit the Chibo-Pashyor landslide area in Kalimpong and also interact with affected members of the community in a focused group discussion.
For those interested, the following six major components have been formed for formulating the National Landslide Strategy by the NDMA :-
I. Generation of User-Friendly Landslide Hazard Maps
II. Development of Landslide Monitoring and Early Warning System (EWS)
IV. Capacity Building and Training of stakeholders
V. Preparation of Mountain Zone Regulations & Policies
VI. Stabilization and Mitigation of Landslides & Creation of Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for Landslide Management