Monday, September 24, 2007

The silent disaster

In the many days that I have trudged up and down these hillsides or driven around Kalimpong in a bid to map the extent of damage caused in the early Sep2007 rains, I am truly shocked by the overall ruin and the sheer scale at which it has happened.

But this time, nature has behaved in an almost sinister and cunning manner.

For those of you who know or have lived thru it, in Oct 1968 we suffered an immense calamity where something dramatic happened in Kalimpong - the Teesta bridge got swept away, so the media screamed out about the tragedy and we even caught the attention of the BBC.

Whereas in Sept 2007 nothing spectacular happened.

The rains STOPPED inches short of a phenomenal disaster but who knows about it?

What has happened is largely unknown to most people in Kalimpong, let alone the national media. A prominent NGO from Kalimpong (who agrees with my findings) had reported the seriousness of the matter and referred this website to their head office but alas! the response from the head office was that nothing had been reported by the media or the government, so how were they to believe what is given in this website?

Yet silently entire mountain sides have cracked up, quietly villages and paddy fields have slid down, roads have got washed away and buildings and mud houses have crumbled while an entire populace sat happily mesmerized by the Indian Idol reality show (the Prashant phenomenon.)

And now with the fair weather, comes a time for making merry making in this part of the world. The once yawning cracks on hillsides are getting covered fast and the forgetting process has begun

nature is playing a cruel game…

next year the monsoons will hammer us again.

The chilling truth is some parts of Kalimpong will disappear.

Today, I was in the upper Alaichikhop (the area beyond and below Munal Lodge ie between Flower patch and the garbage dump) and the Chota Bhalukhop areas.

In Alaichikhop, a massive slide from the garbage dump is severely threatening a very populated area within the municipal area and also the Macfarlane Church, not to mention lower Alaichikhop village. Almost 3 weeks after the rains, 24 people from 5 families are still staying in a school, their houses in Alaichikhop being too damaged for habitation.

An 80m long horizontal crack has developed below the Kalimpong Subdivisional hospital surgical block in the Chota Bhalukhop area, this threatens the hospital above as well as a densely populated area in Chota Bhalukhop

After visiting these places, all I felt was a sense of dread...

my god! how can we tackle the extent of damage caused when all we have is a whole lot of sceptics who don't even believe that something needs to be done?

praful rao

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