Having reached the halfway mark between the end of the monsoons (Sep2007) and the beginning of another one (May2008) it is time we took stock and evaluate just what has happened since Sept2007and looked what needs to be done further:-
What we know:-
a) The Government of West Bengal and DGHC (Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council) at the highest levels, have been made aware of the extent of damage caused by the Sep 2007 rains and necessity of preventive action against landslides. I am personally aware that some Govt officials have taken reports/ photographs from http://www.savethehills.blogspot.com .
b) Public awareness about landslides and slide prevention has increased a lot, thanks to a intense press coverage by the local media (both electronic and print).
c) After a gap of 8 yrs some funds have been released to the Irrigation Dept in Kalimpong for landslide prevention works. There are 13 odd projects for which schemes have been sent to DGHC, this would amount to a requirement of Rs1.5crore approx, the money sanctioned till date however is a pittance.
I am not aware of any preventive work taking place in other parts of the district due to lack of inputs from those areas.
d) The PWD (Public Works Dept) is also doing some preventive work in landslide zones next to the roads. Two places where these are taking place are at 14th mile, 11thmile, in Kalimpong.
Again no inputs from other areas of the district.
e) Geological Survey of India (GSI) has carried out a detailed survey of Kalimpong and its surroundings. 2 scientists were here for 11days and some of us at savethehills were actively involved in taking them to landslide areas. We will obtain the reports as and when they are released.
I have no inputs regarding
f) We held a very successful public demonstration on
What we will be doing:-
a) Requesting the SDO, Kalimpong for a meeting with the concerned departments working in slide prevention.
b) Continuing with awareness programs. We will be carrying out these in schools, clubs and so on.
Any other suggestions??
I would hate to assume that any of the positive developments (like the GSI visit) which have been enumerated above are the result of savethehills action. Whereas some preventive work is taking place at least in Kalimpong, the measures being taken are far from adequate and too slow.
Some time ago, a friend of mine told me that I was unduly worried, that nature operates in cycles and seldom does disaster strike the same area repeatedly. So most probably next year and perhaps for many years to come, the monsoons will be more kind to us than in 2007.
With four months to go for the rains, I just HOPE what he told me is true.