Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Report :- Pashyore , another village in peril

To those interested , Pashyore bustee (village) is in Kalimpong subdivision, somewhere below Chibo bustee and above the Teesta.
A local guide (Mr Pradip Chetrri) took me to the most affected areas...
There are extensive and huge cracks all through parts Pashyore village and even though the whole area inclusive of Chibo falls into the so called "sinking area", a villager in Pashyore whom I spoke to (Kumar Thapa) swore he had never experienced this sort of devastation earlier in his 44 yrs.

The point is, these cracks on the mountains have appeared in Pashyore, Dalapchand, Kankebung, Bhalukhop, Alaichikhop, Sherpa gaon, Chibo, Dhong dara and probably in so many other places I have not visited....

are the mountains trying to tell us something?

I think it is time we listened.

praful rao

1 comment:

Upendra Mani said...


Dear Praful,
Your information over phone today that His Excellency the Governor of West Bengal, Mr. Gandhi, has already taken action on several fronts and that the Hon’ble M.I.C. of Municipal affairs, The District Magistrate Darjeeling, the Irrigation Department and others will soon be initiating appropriate measures to tackle the Landslide problems of the hills of Darjeeling District is indeed very good news! Congrats for your persistent (and often frustrating) efforts to get things moving! Civil Adminisration suffers from “Babu-dom Syndrome” inherited from the British Raj days, and is therefore less agile and less efficient than the Army or Air Force Departments. Most of the landslide devastations took place during the first week of September, 2007. So, we must appreciate that a lot has happened during the past six weeks, despite the intervening Dashera holiday mood! Our main objective is to ascertain that a Landslide-specific Disaster Management System in the hill areas of Darjeeling (and Sikkim) is in place within the shortest possible time. This is a tall order and cannot be handled by smaller agencies like the DGHC or NGOs – hence the need to take help of the Central and State Governments. Tsunami was a new phenomenon in India, but they have managed to put up a modern and effective Tsunami Warning System in Hyderabad within just 2 years! So I personally feel that with a gentle ‘push’ (and ‘shove’ if necessary!) in the right quarters, it should be possible to achieve our objective stated above. We cannot afford to antagonize anybody. We must extend our full support and cooperation to get things done. All we need is grit, determination, foresightedness with a sense of purpose, and of course, a little bit of patience! ‘AWARENESS’ is the key word – we all have a role to play in order to ‘savethehills’!

It is not quite understandable why Disaster Management has lagged far behind in the hills than in the plains. Landslide disasters are definitely more serious than Flood disasters for the simple reason that the victims in the former case often lose their entire lands along with valuable property and lives, whereas in the latter case lands can be retrieved after the floods recede. One reason could be that landslides in the hills take place in segregated pockets where a family or a few families are affected at a time and fewer deaths and displacements occur, unlike in the plains where the flood waters affect hundreds or thousands of people at one and the same time. Consequently flood disasters generate a bigger noise, attract greater media coverage and obviously bigger Government attention, management and funding! This lopsided approach must change forthwith, as the landslides of 2007 ominously indicate unprecedented loss of lives and property in the very near future, as huge areas of unstable hills and entire mountains gradually slide into the adjoining Jhoras (mountain streams) and rivers below! Yawning cracks that have developed here, there and everywhere stand as mute witnesses to this impending tragedy! So, unless we act NOW, it will be too late! This is not an Alarmist Bell – but a fact of life, as we face a National catastrophe!

I don’t think landslides can be halted – but they can certainly be slowed down considerably by taking short term, medium term and long term measures. For this, we will need to take immediate help of the Central and State Governments, DGHC, the Municipalities, NGOs and other concerned Departments like, Irrigation, Soil Conservation, Panchayats, Tourism, Urban & Rural Planning, PWD, Science & Technology, Power, Forest & Environment, Municipal Affairs, Agriculture, Horticulture and others. The whole gamut of socio-economic development of the hill areas will have to be carefully taken into consideration and location of our future urban centres and Satellite Townships decided upon in landslide-free zones (as far as possible). First and foremost we will need the help of a knowledgeable, dependable and interested Geologist (and his Team) from the Geological Survey of India, with experience in dealing with landslides, to make a detailed survey and analysis of the major old and new landslides that have taken place in this region , and make necessary recommendations. The Geologist and his Team must be deputed on a long-term assignment for Landslide-Specific studies in this region. Studies and recommendations by other Governments, Agencies and Departments can also take place simultaneously. Everything can then be co-ordinated and implemented on a short-, medium- and long-term basis.

I am writing an article entitled “Landslide Problems - Causes and Cures. (Through the eyes of a Civil Engineer/Urban and Regional Planner)”, which I will post in your website soon. Give me some ‘Civil’ Time please! Meanwhile keep up the good work.