Friday, November 2, 2007

Sindebung - a decade of neglect

Sindebung straddles the underbelly of Kalimpong town and it used to consist of some of the most fertile pieces of farmland close to town - "used to" because today much of the that land has been wasted by the many jhoras (waterways/rivulets) which plough through the fertile farmland.

Consequently land prices have plummeted in Sindebung and you meet many a gaunt, haggard farmer who has lost his only source of income to landslides.
In my many meanderings during the course of the last month or so, I have found that nothing really is as simple as it looks...
you see, Kalimpong town consists of a huge concrete and asphalt area sitting on a ridge and the entire rain water from this area obviously cannot percolate into the soil and so flows into drains as surface run off water.

So the massive amount of rain water from the built-up town areas during the monsoons runs off the surface and drains either into
a) Teesta river valley or
b) Relli river valley

Unfortunately, our municipal drains do not and perhaps CANNOT continue all the way down to the Teesta or Relli rivers so all of them terminate into jhoras...

And that is where the problem begins..

so the same innocuous, gentle mountain brooks of yesteryear have now become voracious, land-crunching, giant jhoras of today fuelled by the surface run–off rain water from not only Kalimpong town but so many little satellite town ships and villages around town.

And more population means

a) more built up areas ie more water going into our jhoras

b) and the more “untrained” jhoras means more areas becoming susceptible to landslides.

From my talks with many people even those in Govt departments, I have learnt that no “training” of jhoras has been undertaken in the Sindebung area for a decade or more because of "lack of funds"; consequently more and more fertile farmland is turning into barren wasteland.

well, that had better change soon, otherwise in not too many years from now, Kalimpong town will also go the Sindebung way

I place here a photographic study of the problem

a) Slide 1- Kalimpong town and below it - the Sindebung landslides (viewed from the opposite hill ie Kankebung)

b) Slide 2 - direction of rain water drainage from the built up areas of Kalimpong town (yellow arrows) which add to the volume of water in our jhoras (blue arrows) causing huge landslides in Sindebung.

c) Slide 3 - the size of the Sindebung slides

d) Slide 4- closeup of a landslide and the jhora responsible - Sindebung, Kalimpong

d) Slide 5 – farmlands which will disappear within the next 5 years or so, if we do not address these problems

(For those with broad band kindly lookup these areas in google earth or wikimapia)

praful rao

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