Monday, November 12, 2007

A study in contrasts

Telegraph (Siliguri edition) 06Nov2007.
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.

On the one hand, the landslide situation in September 2007 was viewed serious or grave enough by a Chief Minister of a state to speak directly to the Prime Minister, who is after all the Chairman of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA)- the Apex Body for Disaster Management in India.
Would a Chief Minister take such a drastic step unless the situation was really grim?

Right next door in Darjeeling district, where the situation was as serious if not worse, no one in the State Administration nor the DGHC stirred.
I know of a prominent NGO which around 10Sept2007 was searching for any consolidated report on the landslide situation from the Govt- finding none, they forwarded the Survey Report made by savethehills which is on this blogsite (blog entry dated 14Sept2007) to their head office.
In any case, having met the Principal Secretary, Disaster Management, Govt of W Bengal on 02Nov2007 (blog entry dated 03Nov2007), I am quite sure that the neither the Govt of W Bengal nor the district administration think anything grave happened in Sep2007 which warrants any immediate action here in Darjeeling district.

So in mid Nov2007, whereas repairs to roads have started in many places in the district, I am not aware of any work which has commenced with regard to prevention/mitigation of landslides (repair/cleaning/strengthening of our drainage systems or jhoras etc in the short term) and the count down has begun -
we have 5 months to go before the monsoons come right back with a vengeance!

praful rao

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