Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Children of a lesser god ?

Here is an excerpt from the Telegraph (Siliguri edition) 06Nov2007.
Central team in Sikkim
- Officials arrive to assess damage caused by rains

Gangtok, Nov. 5: An inter-ministerial central team is in Sikkim to assess the damage caused by rains this year.

Landslides, triggered by rain, had killed and injured people and damaged houses and property across the state (see chart). NH31A, the main road linking Sikkim to the rest of the country, was also cut off in many places.

The six-member central team is led by R.P. Nath, the joint secretary (administration) in the ministry of home affairs, and has representatives from the Planning Commission and the finance ministry as well as departments of land resources, road transport and drinking water supply.

Yesterday, after the members arrived, they met officials of the Sikkim roads and bridges department who made a presentation on the current situation in the state. This morning, they dispersed in three smaller teams to tour North, West and South districts. They will return tomorrow to visit East Sikkim.

In September, Sikkim chief minister Pawan Chamling had requested Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to send a central team to the state. Chief secretary N.D. Chingapa followed it up by meeting officials of the Prime Minister’s Office and the cabinet secretariat later.

In October, the state government submitted a memorandum to the central relief commissioner in the ministry of home affairs. It included a damage assessment made by the state land revenue and disaster management department.

According to this assessment, the total damage in the state because of rain this year was Rs 94.41 crore. It does not include the damage to NH31A, which is being assessed independently by the National Highways Authority of India and the Border Roads Organisation, which maintains it.

A central team arrives in Sikkim from Delhi to assess the damage caused by the Sep2007 rains because the Chief Minister has spoken to the Prime Minister; whereas in the immediate vicinity and adjacent hills ie Darjeeling district, even our local officials and "VIPs" have not toured the affected areas (many of which have been shown on this website for 2 months now) and which in all probability are in a worse condition than those areas where the central team will be taken to in Sikkim.
What irony!!

But I am thrilled that this team is in Sikkim because it validates what we at "savethehills" have been saying all along "that our district suffered a silent disaster".

High time we woke up and helped ourselves folks, because sadly no one is going to ask that high powered team to hop across to Darjeeling, Kurseong or Kalimpong and assess the damage here...

praful rao


Bharat Mani Pradhan said...

One asks oneself "Are we reinventing the wheel?"

It is the kind of administrative set-up the Darjeeling Hills are reeling under all these years that one gets such Visions of Hell. The only logical thing to happen is ones political will to bring about a paradigm shift in ones world view regarding "dirty politics", try make it clean and SaveTheHills from inside out.

All strength to those trying to fashion "the wheel"!!!

Swaroop said...

It is a move in the right direction. However, to prevent such disastrous catastrophes in the future, it requires the relevant authorities to take immediate action following this visit and not just pay lip service or do paper exercise.

I would like to see more and more citizens of our hills to join Praful Rao bhai and anyone else involved in campaigning to save our hills because as far as I am aware, it seems that, at the moment, only Praful bhai is actively involved at grass roots level to raise awareness of this issue, he will need significant backing to have significant impact, both at home and away!

Darjeeling Brew said...

No, we are not children of a lesser god, but of a lesser leader. The other day I attended a function in Darjeeling where the main speaker was Chamling. His speech was that of the earth, of human society, of aspirations and challenges that it faces. Ghisingh, the lesser one, talks of vacuous spaces, of nothings, of matters irrelevant to our lives. He is our biggest man-made disaster.

Darjeeling Brew said...

...and oh, yes, we must mull plans to manage this disaster too.

prabin said...

the comments made by darjeeling brew contrasting the two leaders brings home the point that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.
i mean you could not expect Chamling to not say all the things that he said, given the fact that he was invited over to speak in a town in which he has got no political liability. however closer at home , when more complex issues of development, environment and sanctity of sacred lands are in question ( read Dzongu) we know what stand he has taken.
of course lack of quality leadership has always been the bane of the hills. however given the nature of the body politic of India all solutions to our problems will have to come at a political level. pressure groups, civil society watchdogs such as this forum itself have a role to play but ultimately it all boils down to the will of the political leaders, their priorities etc. apart from the technical inputs made with regard to various aspects of urban planning, topography etc I personally feel that we can move forward if we can start asking the harder political questions such as: why does the municipality not work?? what is the correlation between civic body corruption and landslides?? how is relief budgeted? is somebody gaining out of all this?? why are criminal proceedings not initiated against corrupt civic authorities who have all along looked the other way when contractors and builders have had a free run over the townscape?? etc etc